Acta Phys. -Chim. Sin. ›› 2018, Vol. 34 ›› Issue (11): 1197-1201.doi: 10.3866/PKU.WHXB201804097

Special Issue: Special Issue in Honor of Professor Yongfang Li's 70th Birthday

• COMMUNICATION • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Electrochemistry of Perovskite CH3NH3PbI3 Crystals

Chunhe YANG1,*(),Aiwei TANG1,Feng TENG2,Kejian JIANG3   

  1. 1 Department of Chemistry, School of Science, Beijing Jiaotong University, Beijing 100044, P. R. China
    2 2 Institute of Optoelectronic Technology, School of Science, Beijing Jiaotong University, Beijing 100044, P. R. China
    3 Key Laboratory of Green Printing, Institute of Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100190, P. R. China
  • Received:2018-02-26 Published:2018-04-17
  • Contact: Chunhe YANG
  • Supported by:
    the Scientific Research Fund of Beijing Jiaotong University(KSRC12006536);the National Natural Science Foundation of China(61674011);the National Natural Science Foundation of China(61735004)


Perovskite CH3NH3PbI3 is an ionic crystal with suitable band gap and conductivity for optoelectronic applications. The sensitivity of the CH3NH3PbI3 crystal and its derivatives to chemical composition, film-forming process, and even moisture lead to difficulties in evaluating its electronic structure and redox behavior using electrochemical techniques. Nevertheless, full understanding of the electrochemical behavior of the perovskite crystal is certainly beneficial for tuning its redox properties and chemical stability, especially for device fabrication. We show that the band structure of CH3NH3PbI3 can be successfully evaluated based on electrochemical square wave voltammetry. The energy level of the bottom of the conduction band of the perovskite crystal was determined directly from the onset reduction potential with reference to the onset oxidation potential of ferrocene, and estimated to be −3.56 eV; the top of the valence band, at –5.07 eV, was determined indirectly after taking into consideration the bandgap, because the oxidation current of the iodide ions shields that corresponding to the valence band of the CH3NH3PbI3 crystal. The overlap of the oxidation currents from the iodide ions and the valence band of the crystal suggests that there are excess iodide ions in CH3NH3PbI3 not involved in the development of the valence band. In addition, the alternating current (AC) impedance spectra of CH3NH3PbI3 indicate that the iodide ions are not completely immobilized. These imply that the defects in the crystal are related to the iodide ions to a large extent. The electrochemistry of CH3NH3PbI3 in an organic electrolyte reveals its coupling degradation during the redox processes in square wave and cyclic voltammetry. The degradation reactions result from the reduction of lead ions and oxidation of iodide ions in the perovskite crystal. In electrochemical reduction, along with the reduction that occurs in the conduction band, the lead ions in the crystal are reduced to metallic lead, which introduces a phase change in the crystal, as revealed in cyclic voltammetry; the metallic lead can be re-oxidized electrochemically. In the case of electrochemical oxidation, the iodide ions, as well as the valence band of CH3NH3PbI3, lose electrons. The electrochemically generated iodine diffuses into the organic electrolyte gradually, which results in the loss of iodide ions in the crystal. Such loss of iodide ions continues during the cyclic redox reaction. Apparently, the electrochemical investigations on perovskite CH3NH3PbI3 show that the crystal is extremely reactive during the redox process; attention should be paid on controlling the excess iodide ions and the irreversible phase change resulting from the oxidation of lead ions.

Key words: Perovskite, Solar cell, Electrochemistry, Band gap, Redox reaction


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