Solvent-Assisted Crystallization of an α-Fe2O3 Electron Transport Layer for Efficient and Stable Perovskite Solar Cells Featuring Negligible Hysteresis

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Inorganic–organic metal halide perovskite solar cells (PSCs) show power conversion efficiency values approaching those of state-of-the-art silicon solar cells. In a quest to find suitable charge transport materials in PSCs, hematite (α-Fe2O3) has emerged as a potential electron transport layer (ETL) in n–i–p planar PSCs due to its low cost, UV light stability, and nontoxicity. Yet, the performance of α-Fe2O3-based PSCs is far lower than that of state-of-the-art PSCs owing to the poor quality of the α-Fe2O3 ETL. In this work, solvent-assisted crystallization of α-Fe2O3 ETLs was carried out to examine the impact of solvents on the optoelectronic properties of α-Fe2O3 thin films. Among the various solvents used in this study (deionized water, ethanol, iso-propanol, and iso-butanol), optimized ethanol-based α-Fe2O3 ETLs lead to champion device performance with a power conversion efficiency of 13% with a reduced hysteresis index of 0.04 in an n–i–p-configured PSC. The PSC also exhibited superior long-term inert and ambient stabilities compared to a reference device made using a SnO2 ETL. Through a series of experiments spanning structural, morphological, and optoelectronic properties of the various α-Fe2O3 thin films and their devices, we provide insights into the reasons for the improved photovoltaic performance. It is noted that the formation of a pinhole-free compact morphology of ETLs facilitates crack-free surface coverage of the perovskite film atop an α-Fe2O3 ETL, reduces interfacial recombination, and enhances charge transfer efficiency. This work opens up the route toward novel ETLs for the development of efficient and photo-stable PSCs.

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ISO 690QURESHI, Akbar Ali, Sofia JAVED, Muhammad Aftab AKRAM, Lukas SCHMIDT-MENDE, Azhar FAKHARUDDIN, 2023. Solvent-Assisted Crystallization of an α-Fe2O3 Electron Transport Layer for Efficient and Stable Perovskite Solar Cells Featuring Negligible Hysteresis. In: ACS Omega. ACS Publications. 2023, 8(20), pp. 18106-18115. eISSN 2470-1343. Available under: doi: 10.1021/acsomega.3c01405
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@article{Qureshi2023Solve-67048,
  year={2023},
  doi={10.1021/acsomega.3c01405},
  title={Solvent-Assisted Crystallization of an α-Fe<sub>2</sub>O<sub>3</sub> Electron Transport Layer for Efficient and Stable Perovskite Solar Cells Featuring Negligible Hysteresis},
  number={20},
  volume={8},
  journal={ACS Omega},
  pages={18106--18115},
  author={Qureshi, Akbar Ali and Javed, Sofia and Akram, Muhammad Aftab and Schmidt-Mende, Lukas and Fakharuddin, Azhar}
}
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