Mechanisms of Electron Beam-Induced Damage in Perovskite Thin Films Revealed by Cathodoluminescence Spectroscopy

Chuanxiao Xiao, Zhen Li, Harvey Guthrey, John Moseley, Ye Yang, Sarah Wozny, Helio Moutinho, Bobby To, Joseph J. Berry, Brian Gorman, Yanfa Yan, Kai Zhu, Mowafak Al-Jassim

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155 Scopus Citations


Electron-beam-induced damages in methylammonium lead triiodide (MAPbI3) perovskite thin films were studied by cathodoluminescence (CL) spectroscopy. We find that high-energy electron beams can significantly alter perovskite properties through two distinct mechanisms: (1) defect formation caused by irradiation damage and (2) phase transformation induced by electron-beam heating. The former mechanism causes quenching and broadening of the excitonic peaks in CL spectra, whereas the latter results in new peaks with higher emission photon energy. The electron-beam damage strongly depends on the electron-beam irradiation conditions. Although CL is a powerful technique for investigating the electronic properties of perovskite materials, irradiation conditions should be carefully controlled to avoid any significant beam damage. In general, reducing acceleration voltage and probing current, coupled with low-temperature cooling, is more favorable for CL characterization and potentially for other scanning electron-beam-based techniques as well. We have also shown that the stability of perovskite materials under electron-beam irradiation can be improved by reducing defects in the original thin films. In addition, we investigated effects of electron-beam irradiation on formamidinium lead triiodide (FAPbI3) and CsPbI3 thin films. FAPbI3 shows similar behavior as MAPbI3, whereas CsPbI3 displays higher resistance to electron-beam damage than its organic-inorganic hybrid counterparts. Using CsPbI3 as a model material, we observed nonuniform luminescence in different grains of perovskite thin films. We also discovered that black-to-yellow phase transformation of CsPbI3 tends to start from the junctions at grain boundaries.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)26904-26911
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry C
Issue number48
StatePublished - 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 American Chemical Society.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5K00-64724


  • cathodoluminescence (CL) spectroscopy
  • MAPbI3
  • methylammonium lead triiodide
  • perovskite thin films


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