Layer-by-Layer Degradation of Methylammonium Lead Tri-iodide Perovskite Microplates
Zheng Fan, Hai Xiao, Yiliu Wang, Zipeng Zhao, Zhaoyang Lin, Hung-Chieh Cheng, Sung-Joon Lee, Gongming Wang, Ziying Feng, William A Goddard III, Yu Huang, Xiangfeng Duan
Joule 1, 548-562 (2017)
The methylammonium lead iodide (MAPbI3) perovskite has attracted considerable interest for its high-efficiency, low-cost solar cells, but is currently plagued by its poor environmental and thermal stability. To aid the development of robust devices, we investigate here the microscopic degradation pathways of MAPbI3 microplates. Using in situ transmission electron microscopy to follow the thermal degradation process, we find that under moderate heating at 85°C the crystalline structure shows a gradual evolution from tetragonal MAPbI3 to trigonal lead iodide layered crystals with a fixed crystallographic direction. Our solid-state nudged elastic band calculations confirm that the surface-initiated layer-by-layer degradation path exhibits the lowest energy barrier for crystal transition. We further show experimentally and theoretically that encapsulation of the perovskites with boron nitride flakes suppresses the surface degradation, greatly improving its thermal stability. These studies provide mechanistic insight into the thermal stability of perovskites that suggests new designs for improved stability.