Goldschmidt's Rules and Strontium Replacement in Lead Halogen Perovskite Solar Cells: Theory and Preliminary Experiments on CH3NH3SrI3
During the past few years, organic lead halogen perovskites have emerged as a class of highly promising solar cell materials, with certified solar cell efficiencies now surpassing 20%. Concerns have, however, been raised about the possible environmental and legalization problems associated with a new solar cell technology based on a water-soluble lead compound. Replacing lead in the perovskite structure: with a less toxic element, without degrading the favorable photo physical properties, would therefore be of interest. In this paper, the possibility of replacing lead with other metal ions is explored by following the replacement rules of Goldschmidt together with additional quantum mechanical considerations. This analysis provides a conceptual toolbox toward replacing lead, as well as additional insights into the photo physics of the metal halogen perovskites. This approach is exemplified by focusing on strontium in particular, which is nontoxic and relatively inexpensive. The ionic radius of Sr2+ and Pb2+ are almost identical, suggesting an exchange could be made without affecting the crystal structure. Couple cluster calculations on the metal ions and their halogen salts give the bonding patterns to be sufficiently similar and density functional theory (DFT) revealed the strontium perovskite, CH3NH3SrI3, to be a stable phase, despite the difference in electronegativity between lead and strontium. This is further supported by the existence of binary PM, and SrI2 compounds and the beneficial formation energy of the strontium perovskite. The electronic properties of both CH3NH3SrI3 and CH3NH3PbI3 were simulated and compared, revealing a higher degree of ionic interaction in the metal halogen bound in the strontium perovskite. This is a consequence of the lower electronegativity of strontium, which, together with the lack of d-orbitals in the Valence of Sr2+, results, in a higher band gap. The band gap for the strontium perovskite was estimated to 3.6 eV, which unfortunately is too high for an efficient photo absorber. Initial investigations on experimental synthesis of the strontium perovskite, using wet chemical methods, revealed it to be harder to produce than the lead perovskite This is explained as a:consequence of different bonding patterns in the metal iodine salts, which obstruct the methylammonium intercalation pathway utilized for forming the perovskite. Vapor phase methods are instead suggested as more promising synthesis routes.