Trapping lead in perovskite solar modules with abundant and low-cost cation-exchange resins


One major concern for the commercialization of perovskite photovoltaic technology is the toxicity of lead from the water-soluble lead halide perovskites that can contaminate the environment. Here, we report an abundant, low-cost and chemically robust cation-exchange resin (CER)-based method that can prevent lead leakage from damaged perovskite solar modules under severe weather conditions. CERs exhibit both high adsorption capacity and high adsorption rate of lead in water due to the high binding energy with lead ions in the mesoporous structure. Integrating CERs with carbon electrodes and layering them on the glass surface of modules has a negligible detrimental effect on device efficiency while reducing lead leakage from perovskite mini-modules by 62-fold to 14.3 ppb in water. The simulated lead leakage from damaged large-area perovskite solar panels treated with CERs can be further reduced to below 7.0 ppb even in the worst-case scenario that every sub-module is damaged.

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Fig. 1: Lead adsorption properties of CERs.
Fig. 2: Characterization of CERs on PSCs.
Fig. 3: Lead sequestration in perovskite solar mini-modules with CER coating layers.
Fig. 4: Lead sequestration in PSCs with CER-incorporated carbon electrodes.
Fig. 5: Lead leakage simulation on a damaged carbon perovskite solar panel.

Data availability

All data generated or analysed during this study are included in the published article and its Supplementary Information and Source Data files. Source data are provided with this paper.


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This research was financially supported mainly by the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. We acknowledge support for the first-principles computations by the Center for Hybrid Organic Inorganic Semiconductors for Energy (CHOISE), an Energy Frontier Research Center (EFRC) funded by the US Department of Energy, Office of Basic Energy Sciences, Office of Science. We used the BET surface area and pore diameter analyser (Quantachrome NOVA 2000e) at the AMPED EFRC Instrumentation Facility established by the Alliance for Molecular PhotoElectrode Design for Solar Fuels, an EFRC funded by the US Department of Energy, Office of Basic Energy Sciences, Office of Science, under award number DE-SC0001011).

Author information




J.H. and S.C. conceived the idea. S.C. fabricated the metal electrode PSCs and carbon perovskite solar devices, and conducted the lead leakage tests. Y.D. fabricated the metal electrode perovskite solar modules. H.G. prepared the carbon paste. S.X. simulated the lead leakage from solar panels. S.W. analysed the XPS results. Z.Y. assisted the fabrication of carbon PSCs. V.B. performed the computation of adsorption energies. J.H. and S.C. wrote the paper. All authors reviewed the paper.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Jinsong Huang.

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Supplementary Information

Supplementary Figs. 1–18 and Tables 1–3.

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Chen, S., Deng, Y., Gu, H. et al. Trapping lead in perovskite solar modules with abundant and low-cost cation-exchange resins. Nat Energy 5, 1003–1011 (2020).

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