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Dopants Control Electron–Hole Recombination at Perovskite–TiO2 Interfaces: Ab Initio Time-Domain Study

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journal contribution
posted on 24.11.2015, 00:00 by Run Long, Oleg V. Prezhdo
TiO2 sensitized with organohalide perovskites gives rise to solar-to-electricity conversion efficiencies reaching close to 20%. Nonradiative electron–hole recombination across the perovskite/TiO2 interface constitutes a major pathway of energy losses, limiting quantum yield of the photoinduced charge. In order to establish the fundamental mechanisms of the energy losses and to propose practical means for controlling the interfacial electron–hole recombination, we applied ab initio nonadiabatic (NA) molecular dynamics to pristine and doped CH3NH3PbI3(100)/TiO2 anatase(001) interfaces. We show that doping by substitution of iodide with chlorine or bromine reduces charge recombination, while replacing lead with tin enhances the recombination. Generally, lighter and faster atoms increase the NA coupling. Since the dopants are lighter than the atoms they replace, one expects a priori that all three dopants should accelerate the recombination. We rationalize the unexpected behavior of chlorine and bromine by three effects. First, the Pb–Cl and Pb–Br bonds are shorter than the Pb–I bond. As a result, Cl and Br atoms are farther away from the TiO2 surface, decreasing the donor–acceptor coupling. In contrast, some iodines form chemical bonds with Ti atoms, increasing the coupling. Second, chlorine and bromine reduce the NA electron–vibrational coupling, because they contribute little to the electron and hole wave functions. Tin increases the coupling, since it is lighter than lead and contributes to the hole wave function. Third, higher frequency modes introduced by chlorine and bromine shorten quantum coherence, thereby decreasing the transition rate. The recombination occurs due to coupling of the electronic subsystem to low-frequency perovskite and TiO2 modes. The simulation shows excellent agreement with the available experimental data and advances our understanding of electronic and vibrational dynamics in perovskite solar cells. The study provides design principles for optimizing solar cell performance and increasing photon-to-electron conversion efficiency through creative choice of dopants.