Structural and optical properties of methylammonium lead iodide across the tetragonal to cubic phase transition: implications for perovskite solar cells†
We report temperature resolved UV-vis absorption and spectral photocurrent response measurements of MAPbI3 thin films and solar cells, together with ab initio simulations, to investigate the changes in material properties occurring across the tetragonal to cubic phase transition. We find that the MAPbI3 band-gap does not abruptly change when exceeding the tetragonal to cubic transition temperature, but it rather monotonically blue-shifts following the same temperature evolution observed within the tetragonal phase. Car–Parrinello molecular dynamics simulations demonstrate that the high temperature phase corresponds on average to the expected symmetric cubic structure assigned from XRD measurements, but that the system strongly deviates from such a structure in the sub-picosecond time scale. Thus, on the time scale of electronic transitions, the material seldom experiences a cubic environment, rather an increasingly distorted tetragonal one. This result explains the absence of dramatic changes in the optical of MAPbI3 across the explored temperature range of 270–420 K, which could have important consequences for the practical uptake of perovskite solar cells.