Perovskite solar cells (PSCs) have now achieved efficiencies in excess of 22%, but very little is known about their long-term stability under thermal stress. So far, stability reports have hinted at the importance of substituting the organic components, but little attention has been given to the metal contact. We investigated the stability of state-of-the-art PSCs with efficiencies exceeding 20%. Remarkably, we found that exposing PSCs to a temperature of 70 °C is enough to induce gold migration through the hole-transporting layer (HTL), spiro-MeOTAD, and into the perovskite material, which in turn severely affects the device performance metrics under working conditions. Importantly, we found that the main cause of irreversible degradation is not due to decomposition of the organic and hybrid perovskite layers. By introducing a Cr metal interlayer between the HTL and gold electrode, high-temperature-induced irreversible long-term losses are avoided. This key finding is essential in the quest for achieving high efficiency, long-term stable PSCs which, in order to be commercially viable, need to withstand hard thermal stress tests.
Keywords: buffer layers; degradation; gold; metal electrodes; perovskite solar cells; secondary ion mass spectrometry; stability.