Improved understanding of the electronic and energetic landscapes of perovskite solar cells: high local charge carrier mobility, reduced recombination, and extremely shallow traps

J Am Chem Soc. 2014 Oct 1;136(39):13818-25. doi: 10.1021/ja506936f. Epub 2014 Sep 17.


The intriguing photoactive features of organic-inorganic hybrid perovskites have enabled the preparation of a new class of highly efficient solar cells. However, the fundamental properties, upon which the performance of these devices is based, are currently under-explored, making their elucidation a vital issue. Herein, we have investigated the local mobility, recombination, and energetic landscape of charge carriers in a prototype CH3NH3PbI3 perovskite (PVK) using a laser-flash time-resolved microwave conductivity (TRMC) technique. PVK was prepared on mesoporous TiO2 and Al2O3 by one or two-step sequential deposition. PVK on mesoporous TiO2 exhibited a charge carrier mobility of 20 cm(2) V(-1) s(-1), which was predominantly attributed to holes. PVK on mesoporous Al2O3, on the other hand, exhibited a 50% lower mobility, which was resolved into balanced contributions from both holes and electrons. A general correlation between crystal size and mobility was revealed irrespective of the fabrication process and underlying layer. Modulating the microwave frequency from 9 toward 23 GHz allowed us to determine the intrinsic mobilities of each PVK sample (60-75 cm(2) V(-1) s(-1)), which were mostly independent of the mesoporous scaffold. Kinetic and frequency analysis of the transient complex conductivity strongly support the superiority of the perovskite, based on a significant suppression of charge recombination, an extremely shallow trap depth (10 meV), and a low concentration of these trapped states (less than 10%). The transport mechanism was further investigated by examining the temperature dependence of the TRMC maxima. Our study provides a basis for understanding perovskite solar cell operation, while highlighting the importance of the mesoporous layer and the perovskite fabrication process.