Analytical Evaluation of Lead Iodide Precursor Impurities Affecting Halide Perovskite Device Performance

Ross Kerner, Earl Christensen, Steven Harvey, Jonah Messinger, Severin Habisreutinger, Fei Zhang, Giles Eperon, Laura Schelhas, Kai Zhu, Joseph Berry, David Moore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus Citations


Mirroring established semiconductor technologies, using higher quality reagents to synthesize halide perovskite materials results in improved optoelectronic performance. In this study, we selected five different commercial PbI2 sources of various purities and fabricated solar cells in three different perovskite composition-device architecture combinations. In all cases, we observed similar device performance correlations to the PbI2 reagent source across the different processing recipes and architectures. We then employed a suite of analytical characterization techniques to determine the identity and concentration of impurities within the PbI2 reagents that affected the device performance trends. Many impurities were observed; some remain unidentified, but it was possible to single out acetate (OAc) and potassium (K) as key species displaying the largest variation in concentrations among the as-received PbI2. Acetate was identified as a detrimental impurity, while K impurities may be advantageous as suggested by the previous literature on alkali cation additives. A simple aqueous recrystallization successfully decreased the concentration of many impurities, and the results from devices fabricated from recrystallized PbI2 reagents are interpreted in terms of their new impurity profiles. This work significantly contributes to the list of known impurities in perovskite reagents that researchers should be aware of, and we propose improved purification methods for perovskite precursors will further benefit device performance, run-to-run, and batch-to-batch reproducibility.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)295-301
Number of pages7
JournalACS Applied Energy Materials
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

See NREL/JA-5900-82129 for preprint as published in ChemRxiv

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5900-85073


  • halide perovskite; device performance
  • lead iodide precursor impurities
  • PbI2 reagent source
  • SIMS data


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