Sustainable solvent selection for the manufacture of methylammonium lead triiodide (MAPbI3) perovskite solar cells

Alexander James Doolin, Rhys Gareth Charles, Catherine S. P. De Castro, Rodrigo Garcia Rodriguez, Emmanuel Vincent Péan, Rahul Patidar, Tom Dunlop, Cecile Charbonneau, Trystan Watson, Matthew L Davies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Perovskite solar cells have emerged as a promising and highly efficient solar technology. Despite efficiencies continuing to climb, the prospect of industrial manufacture is in part hampered by concerns regarding the safety and sustainability of the solvents used in lab scale manufacture. In this paper, we aim to present a methodology for green solvent selection informed by EHS considerations from the CHEM-21 solvent guide for successful methylammonium lead triiodide (MAPbI3) precursor dissolution. Through the use of this methodology we present a N,N-dimethylformamide (DMF)-free alternative solvent system for deposition of MAPbI3 precursors (MAI and PbI2) consisting of dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO), dimethylpropyleneurea (DMPU), 2-methyltetrahydrofuran (2-MeTHF) and ethanol (EtOH). We have investigated 3 candidate solutions with slightly different compositions of these four solvents, all of which produce dense, uniform and pinhole-free perovskite films via spin coating. All three candidate solutions (A–C) match the average device efficiencies of the DMF/DMSO control devices (12.4%) with candidate A, which consists of 40% DMSO, 30% DMPU, 20% 2-MeTHF and 10% EtOH (vol%), producing a champion PCE of 16.1% compared to 16.2% for DMF/DMSO (80/20 vol%). Perovskite films cast from the three candidate solutions show improved crystallinity, higher fluorescence emission, and improved crystal size uniformity than those cast from DMF/DMSO. This work aims to: highlight the key solvent parameters which determine effective MAPbI3 precursor dissolution; provide a set of criteria for appropriate alternative solvent selection; and demonstrate the application of green chemistry principles to solvent selection for perovskite photovoltaic manufacturing.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalGreen Chemistry
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2021-03-15
Acknowledgements: We are grateful for the financial support of the EPSRC (EP/R016666/1 and EP/S001336/1) and both the EPSRC and Innovate UK for the SPECIFIC Innovation and Knowledge Centre and the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government for support to the Sêr Solar program. MLD and TW are grateful for funding through the EPSRC GCRF SUNRISE project (EP/P032591/1). This project has received funding from the European Union Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska—Curie grant agreement no 764787. The authors would like to acknowledge the assistance provided by Swansea University College of Engineering AIM Facility, which was funded in part by the EPSRC (EP/M028267/1).

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Pollution


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