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Giant switchable photovoltaic effect in organometal trihalide perovskite devices


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Organolead trihalide perovskite (OTP) materials are emerging as naturally abundant materials for low-cost, solution-processed and highly efficient solar cells1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9. Here, we show that, in OTP-based photovoltaic devices with vertical and lateral cell configurations, the photocurrent direction can be switched repeatedly by applying a small electric field of <1 V μm−1. The switchable photocurrent, generally observed in devices based on ferroelectric materials, reached 20.1 mA cm−2 under one sun illumination in OTP devices with a vertical architecture, which is four orders of magnitude larger than that measured in other ferroelectric photovoltaic devices10,11. This field-switchable photovoltaic effect can be explained by the formation of reversible p–i–n structures induced by ion drift in the perovskite layer. The demonstration of switchable OTP photovoltaics and electric-field-manipulated doping paves the way for innovative solar cell designs and for the exploitation of OTP materials in electrically and optically readable memristors and circuits.

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Figure 1: Vertical structure photovoltaic devices and their switching behaviour.
Figure 2: Lateral structure photovoltaic devices and their switching behaviour.
Figure 3: Switchable photovoltaic model and mechanism study.
Figure 4: In situ monitoring of the material change during the poling process.

Change history

  • 07 January 2015

    In the version of this Letter originally published online, the (') and (•) symbols where reversed. In keeping with the Kröger–Vink notation, the (') should indicate a negative charge and (•) a positive charge, thus the following sentences should have read "Theoretical calculations predicted that negatively charged Pb and MA vacancy (VPb' and VMA') could result in p-type doping, whereas positively charged I vacancy (VI) results in...", "In this scenario, the electric field causes the drift of charged VI, VPb' and/or VMA', which have low formation energies..." and "The loss of perovskite material on the anode side indicated that the drifting ions were VPb' and/or VMA'." These errors have now been corrected in all versions of the Letter.


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We thank the National Science Foundation for its financial support under Awards ECCS-1201384 and ECCS-1252623, the Department of Energy under Award DE-EE0006709 and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency under award HDTRA1-14-1-0030.

Author information




J.H. conceived and supervised the project. Z.X. fabricated and measured the vertical structure device. Y.Y. and Q.W. fabricated and measured the lateral structure device. Y.S. conducted the KPFM measurement. Q.D. synthesized the MAI material. P.S. and A.G. conducted the PFM measurement. All authors analysed the data and wrote the manuscript.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Zhengguo Xiao or Yongbo Yuan or Yuchuan Shao or Jinsong Huang.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Xiao, Z., Yuan, Y., Shao, Y. et al. Giant switchable photovoltaic effect in organometal trihalide perovskite devices. Nature Mater 14, 193–198 (2015).

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