Crystal structure thermal evolution and novel orthorhombic phase of methylammonium lead bromide, CH3NH3PbBr3

Sci Rep. 2022 Nov 4;12(1):18647. doi: 10.1038/s41598-022-21544-2.


Methylammonium (MA) lead trihalide perovskites, CH3NH3PbX3 (X = I, Br, Cl), have emerged as a new class of light-absorbing materials for photovoltaic applications, reaching efficiencies of 23% when implemented in solar cell heterojunctions. In particular, MAPbBr3 is a promising member with a large bandgap that gives rise to a high open circuit voltage. Here we present a structural study from neutron diffraction (ND) data of an undeuterated MAPbBr3 specimen, carried out to follow its crystallographic behaviour in the 2-298 K temperature range. Besides the known crystallographic phases, i.e. the high-temperature Pm[Formula: see text]m cubic structure, the intermediate I4/mcm tetragonal symmetry and the low-temperature Pnma orthorhombic phase, we additionally identified, from a detailed sequential ND analysis, a novel intermediate phase within the 148.5-154.0 K temperature range as an orthorhombic Imma structure, early associated with a coexistence of phases. Moreover, our ND data allowed us to unveil the configuration of the organic MA units and their complete localization within the mentioned temperature range, thus improving the crystallographic description of this compound. The evolution with temperature of the H-bonds between the organic molecule and the inorganic cage is also followed. A deep knowledge of the crystal structure and, in particular, the MA conformation inside the perovskite cage seems essential to establish structure-property correlations that may drive further improvements.