Reactions at Noble Metal Contacts with Methylammonium Lead Triiodide Perovskites: Role of Underpotential Deposition and Electrochemistry

Ross A. Kerner, Philip Schulz, Jeffrey A. Christians, Sean P. Dunfield, Benjia Dou, Lianfeng Zhao, Glenn Teeter, Joseph J. Berry, Barry P. Rand

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75 Scopus Citations


Chemical reactivity of halide perovskites coupled with a low energy of formation makes it a challenge to characterize material properties and achieve long-Term device stability. In this study, we elucidate electrochemical reactions occurring at the methylammonium lead triiodide (MAPbI3)/Au interface. X-ray photoemission spectroscopy is used to identify a type of reduction/oxidation reaction termed underpotential deposition (UPD) involving lead, iodine, and hydrogen occurring at interfaces with noble metals. Changes in surface compositions and oxidation states suggest that UPD derived adsorbates at MAPbI3/Au interfaces lower the energy barrier for release of volatile HI and/or I2 catalyzing degradation at exposed contacts. Additionally, comparison to PbI2/Au interfaces demonstrates that the presence of methylammonium/methylamine accelerates the formation of a Pb0 adlayer on the Au. Reactions involving UPD Pb0 can transform the typically anodic (hole collecting) Au to a cathode in a photovoltaic measurement. Cyclic voltammetry reveals electrochemical reaction peaks in indium tin oxide (ITO)/MAPbI3/Au devices occurring within voltage ranges commonly used for perovskite characterization. The electrochemical stability window of this device architecture is measured to be between-0.5 V and 0.9 V. Voltage induced interfacial reactions contribute to reversible electrochemical peaks, hysteresis, switchable perovskite diode polarity, and permanent degradation at larger voltages. These types of surface reactions alter the interface/interphase composition beyond ion accumulation, provide a source for the diffusion of defects, and contribute to electrode material dependent current-voltage hysteresis. Moreover, the results imply fundamental limitations to achieving high device stability with noble metals and/or methylammonium containing perovskites.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number041103
Number of pages10
JournalAPL Materials
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Author(s).

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5K00-73840


  • chemical compounds and components
  • chemical elements
  • electrical properties and parameters
  • electrochemical reactions
  • electrochemistry
  • electrodeposition
  • interphases
  • perovskites
  • reaction mechanisms


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