Direct Nanoscale Visualization of the Electric-Field-Induced Aging Dynamics of MAPbI3 Thin Films

Nikita A. Emelianov, Victoria V. Ozerova, Yuri S. Fedotov, Mikhail V. Zhidkov, Rasim R. Saifutyarov, Maria S. Malozovskaya, Mikhail S. Leshchev, Eugeniy V. Golosov, Lyubov A. Frolova and Pavel A. Troshin

Materials 16, 4277 (2023)
Perovskite solar cells represent the most attractive emerging photovoltaic technology, but their practical implementation is limited by solar cell devices’ low levels of operational stability. The electric field represents one of the key stress factors leading to the fast degradation of perovskite solar cells. To mitigate this issue, one must gain a deep mechanistic understanding of the perovskite aging pathways associated with the action of the electric field. Since degradation processes are spatially heterogeneous, the behaviors of perovskite films under an applied electric field should be visualized with nanoscale resolution. Herein, we report a direct nanoscale visualization of methylammonium (MA+) cation dynamics in methylammonium lead iodide (MAPbI3) films during field-induced degradation, using infrared scattering-type scanning near-field microscopy (IR s-SNOM). The obtained data reveal that the major aging pathways are related to the anodic oxidation of I and the cathodic reduction of MA+, which finally result in the depletion of organic species in the channel of the device and the formation of Pb. This conclusion was supported by a set of complementary techniques such as time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometry (ToF-SIMS), photoluminescence (PL) microscopy, scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and energy-dispersive X-ray (EDX) microanalysis. The obtained results demonstrate that IR s-SNOM represents a powerful technique for studying the spatially resolved field-induced degradation dynamics of hybrid perovskite absorbers and the identification of more promising materials resistant to the electric field.