Interfacial toughening with self-assembled monolayers enhances perovskite solar cell reliability

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Science  07 May 2021:
Vol. 372, Issue 6542, pp. 618-622
DOI: 10.1126/science.abf5602

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Tougher solar cell interfaces

The low formation energies of the active layers in perovskite solar cells lead to low-toughness materials that are compliant and soft, which limits their interface stability and long-term reliability. Dai et al. show that treatment with iodine-terminated self-assembled monolayers that react with surface hydroxyl groups (which ultimately creates unwanted charge traps and voids) leads to a 50% increase of adhesion toughness between the electron transport layer and a mixed-composition perovskite thin film. The projected point at which 80% of the operating efficiency in perovskite solar cells was still retained increased from ∼700 to 4000 hours for 1-sun exposure with continuous maximum power point tracking.

Science, this issue p. 618


Iodine-terminated self-assembled monolayer (I-SAM) was used in perovskite solar cells (PSCs) to achieve a 50% increase of adhesion toughness at the interface between the electron transport layer (ETL) and the halide perovskite thin film to enhance mechanical reliability. Treatment with I-SAM also increased the power conversion efficiency from 20.2% to 21.4%, reduced hysteresis, and improved operational stability with a projected T80 (time to 80% initial efficiency retained) increasing from ~700 hours to 4000 hours under 1-sun illumination and with continuous maximum power point tracking. Operational stability–tested PSC without SAMs revealed extensive irreversible morphological degradation at the ETL/perovskite interface, including voids formation and delamination, whereas PSCs with I-SAM exhibited minimal damage accumulation. This difference was attributed to a combination of a decrease in hydroxyl groups at the interface and the higher interfacial toughness.

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