Letter | Published:

Perovskite light-emitting diodes based on spontaneously formed submicrometre-scale structures

Naturevolume 562pages249253 (2018) | Download Citation


Light-emitting diodes (LEDs), which convert electricity to light, are widely used in modern society—for example, in lighting, flat-panel displays, medical devices and many other situations. Generally, the efficiency of LEDs is limited by nonradiative recombination (whereby charge carriers recombine without releasing photons) and light trapping1,2,3. In planar LEDs, such as organic LEDs, around 70 to 80 per cent of the light generated from the emitters is trapped in the device4,5, leaving considerable opportunity for improvements in efficiency. Many methods, including the use of diffraction gratings, low-index grids and buckling patterns, have been used to extract the light trapped in LEDs6,7,8,9. However, these methods usually involve complicated fabrication processes and can distort the light-output spectrum and directionality6,7. Here we demonstrate efficient and high-brightness electroluminescence from solution-processed perovskites that spontaneously form submicrometre-scale structures, which can efficiently extract light from the device and retain wavelength- and viewing-angle-independent electroluminescence. These perovskites are formed simply by introducing amino-acid additives into the perovskite precursor solutions. Moreover, the additives can effectively passivate perovskite surface defects and reduce nonradiative recombination. Perovskite LEDs with a peak external quantum efficiency of 20.7 per cent (at a current density of 18 milliamperes per square centimetre) and an energy-conversion efficiency of 12 per cent (at a high current density of 100 milliamperes per square centimetre) can be achieved—values that approach those of the best-performing organic LEDs.

Access optionsAccess options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.

Data availability

The data that support the finding of this study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.

Additional information

Publisher’s note: Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.


  1. 1.

    Lee, J. et al. Deep blue phosphorescent organic light-emitting diodes with very high brightness and efficiency. Nat. Mater. 15, 92–98 (2016).

  2. 2.

    Dai, X. et al. Solution-processed, high-performance light-emitting diodes based on quantum dots. Nature 515, 96–99 (2014).

  3. 3.

    Waltereit, P. et al. Nitride semiconductors free of electrostatic fields for efficient white light-emitting diodes. Nature 406, 865–868 (2000).

  4. 4.

    Lee, Y.-J. et al. A high-extraction-efficiency nanopatterned organic light-emitting diode. Appl. Phys. Lett. 82, 3779–3781 (2003).

  5. 5.

    Bulović, V. et al. Weak microcavity effects in organic light-emitting devices. Phys. Rev. B 58, 3730–3740 (1998).

  6. 6.

    Matterson, B. J. et al. Increased efficiency and controlled light output from a microstructured light-emitting diode. Adv. Mater. 13, 123–127 (2001).

  7. 7.

    Ziebarth, J. M., Saafir, A. K., Fan, S. & McGehee, M. D. Extracting light from polymer light-emitting diodes using stamped bragg gratings. Adv. Funct. Mater. 14, 451–456 (2004).

  8. 8.

    Sun, Y. & Forrest, S. R. Enhanced light out-coupling of organic light-emitting devices using embedded low-index grids. Nat. Photon. 2, 483–487 (2008).

  9. 9.

    Koo, W. H. et al. Light extraction from organic light-emitting diodes enhanced by spontaneously formed buckles. Nat. Photon. 4, 222–226 (2010).

  10. 10.

    Deschler, F. et al. High photoluminescence efficiency and optically pumped lasing in solution-processed mixed halide perovskite semiconductors. J. Phys. Chem. Lett. 5, 1421–1426 (2014).

  11. 11.

    Tan, Z.-K. et al. Bright light-emitting diodes based on organometal halide perovskite. Nat. Nanotechnol. 9, 687–692 (2014).

  12. 12.

    Wang, J. et al. Interfacial control toward efficient and low-voltage perovskite light-emitting diodes. Adv. Mater. 27, 2311–2316 (2015).

  13. 13.

    Wang, N. et al. Perovskite light-emitting diodes based on solution-processed self-organized multiple quantum wells. Nat. Photon. 10, 699–704 (2016).

  14. 14.

    Yuan, M. et al. Perovskite energy funnels for efficient light-emitting diodes. Nat. Nanotechnol. 11, 872–877 (2016).

  15. 15.

    Yang, X. et al. Efficient green light-emitting diodes based on quasi-two-dimensional composition and phase engineered perovskite with surface passivation. Nat. Commun. 9, 570; correction 9, 1169 (2018).

  16. 16.

    Sun, Y. et al. The formation of perovskite multiple quantum well structures for high performance light-emitting diodes. npj Flex. Electron. 2, 12 (2018).

  17. 17.

    Zou, W. et al. Minimising efficiency roll-off in high-brightness perovskite light-emitting diodes. Nat. Commun. 9, 608 (2018).

  18. 18.

    Richter, J. M. et al. Enhancing photoluminescence yields in lead halide perovskites by photon recycling and light out-coupling. Nat. Commun. 7, 13941 (2016).

  19. 19.

    Schmidt, L. C. et al. Nontemplate synthesis of CH3NH3PbBr3 perovskite nanoparticles. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 136, 850–853 (2014).

  20. 20.

    Sichert, J. A. et al. Quantum size effect in organometal halide perovskite nanoplatelets. Nano Lett. 15, 6521–6527 (2015).

  21. 21.

    Lin, X. et al. Electrically-driven single-photon sources based on colloidal quantum dots with near-optimal antibunching at room temperature. Nat. Commun. 8, 1132 (2017).

  22. 22.

    Fu, Y. et al. Stabilization of the metastable lead iodide perovskite phase via surface functionalization. Nano Lett. 17, 4405–4414 (2017).

  23. 23.

    Pang, S. et al. NH2CH=NH2PbI3: an alternative organolead iodide perovskite sensitizer for mesoscopic solar cells. Chem. Mater. 26, 1485–1491 (2014).

  24. 24.

    Stranks, S. D. et al. Recombination kinetics in organic-inorganic perovskites: excitons, free charge, and subgap states. Phys. Rev. Appl. 2, 034007 (2014).

  25. 25.

    Gélvez-Rueda, M. C., Renaud, N. & Grozema, F. C. Temperature dependent charge carrier dynamics in formamidinium lead iodide perovskite. J. Phys. Chem. C 121, 23392–23397 (2017).

  26. 26.

    Mei, A. et al. A hole-conductor-free, fully printable mesoscopic perovskite solar cell with high stability. Science 345, 295–298 (2014).

  27. 27.

    Zhang, T. et al. In situ fabrication of highly luminescent bifunctional amino acid crosslinked 2D/3D NH3C4H9COO(CH3NH3PbBr3)n perovskite films. Adv. Funct. Mater. 27, 1603568 (2017).

  28. 28.

    de Quilettes, D. W. et al. Impact of microstructure on local carrier lifetime in perovskite solar cells. Science 348, 683–686 (2015).

  29. 29.

    Lee, S. et al. Amine-based passivating materials for enhanced optical properties and performance of organic-inorganic perovskites in light-emitting diodes. J. Phys. Chem. Lett. 8, 1784–1792 (2017).

  30. 30.

    Sassi, M. et al. Near-infrared roll-off-free electroluminescence from highly stable diketopyrrolopyrrole light emitting diodes. Sci. Rep. 6, 34096 (2016).

  31. 31.

    Zhou, Y. et al. A universal method to produce low-work function electrodes for organic electronics. Science 336, 327–332 (2012).

  32. 32.

    Forrest, S. R., Bradley, D. D. C. & Thompson, M. E. Measuring the efficiency of organic light-emitting devices. Adv. Mater. 15, 1043–1048 (2003).

  33. 33.

    de Mello, J. C., Wittmann, H. F. & Friend, R. H. An improved experimental determination of external photoluminescence quantum efficiency. Adv. Mater. 9, 230–232 (1997).

  34. 34.

    Rubin, M. Optical properties of soda lime silica glasses. Sol. Energy Mater. 12, 275–288 (1985).

  35. 35.

    König, T. A. F. et al. Electrically tunable plasmonic behavior of nanocube–polymer nanomaterials induced by a redox-active electrochromic polymer. ACS Nano 8, 6182–6192 (2014).

  36. 36.

    Ogomi, Y. et al. All-solid perovskite solar cells with HOCO-R-NH3 +I anchor-group inserted between porous titania and perovskite. J. Phys. Chem. C 118, 16651–16659 (2014).

  37. 37.

    Tamaddon, F., Aboee, F. & Nasiri, A. ZnO nanofluid as a structure base catalyst for chemoselective amidation of aliphatic carboxylic acids. Catal. Commun. 16, 194–197 (2011).

  38. 38.

    Ly, K. T. et al. Near-infrared organic light-emitting diodes with very high external quantum efficiency and radiance. Nat. Photon. 11, 63–68 (2017).

  39. 39.

    Kim, K.-H. et al. Phosphorescent dye-based supramolecules for high-efficiency organic light-emitting diodes. Nat. Commun. 5, 4769 (2014).

  40. 40.

    Helander, M. G. et al. Chlorinated indium tin oxide electrodes with high work function for organic device compatibility. Science 332, 944–947 (2011).

  41. 41.

    Lin, T.-A. et al. Sky-blue organic light emitting diode with 37% external quantum efficiency using thermally activated delayed fluorescence from spiroacridine-triazine hybrid. Adv. Mater. 28, 6976–6983 (2016).

Download references


This work is supported financially by the Joint Research Program between China and the European Union (2016YFE0112000); the Major Research Plan of the National Natural Science Foundation of China (91733302); the National Basic Research Program of China-Fundamental Studies of Perovskite Solar Cells (2015CB932200); the Natural Science Foundation of Jiangsu Province, China (BK20150043, BK20150064, BK20180085); the National Natural Science Foundation of China (11474164, 11474249, 61634001); the National Science Fund for Distinguished Young Scholars (61725502, 61725503); and the Synergetic Innovation Center for Organic Electronics and Information Displays. We thank D. Di and B. Zhao for cross-checking the LED measurement system and Y. Zhao for helpful discussions. We thank M. Winton and N. Greenham for proof reading.

Reviewer information

Nature thanks A. Urban and the other anonymous reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

Author information

Author notes

  1. These authors contributed equally: Yu Cao, Nana Wang, He Tian, Jingshu Guo


  1. Key Laboratory of Flexible Electronics (KLOFE) and Institute of Advanced Materials (IAM), Jiangsu National Synergetic Innovation Center for Advanced Materials (SICAM), Nanjing Tech University (NanjingTech), Nanjing, China

    • Yu Cao
    • , Nana Wang
    • , Yingqiang Wei
    • , Hong Chen
    • , Yanfeng Miao
    • , Wei Zou
    • , Kang Pan
    • , Yarong He
    • , Hui Cao
    • , You Ke
    • , Mengmeng Xu
    • , Ying Wang
    • , Ming Yang
    • , Zewu Fu
    • , Decheng Kong
    • , Gongqiang Li
    • , Hai Li
    • , Qiming Peng
    • , Jianpu Wang
    •  & Wei Huang
  2. Center of Electron Microscope, State Key Laboratory of Silicon Material, School of Material Science and Engineering, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China

    • He Tian
    •  & Kai Du
  3. Centre for Optical and Electromagnetic Research, State Key Laboratory for Modern Optical Instrumentation, Zhejiang Provincial Key Laboratory for Sensing Technologies, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China

    • Jingshu Guo
    •  & Daoxin Dai
  4. Center for Chemistry of High-Performance and Novel Materials, State Key Laboratory of Silicon Materials, and Department of Chemistry, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China

    • Yizheng Jin
  5. Key Laboratory for Organic Electronics and Information Displays, Institute of Advanced Materials, Nanjing University of Posts and Telecommunications, Nanjing, China

    • Wei Huang
  6. Shaanxi Institute of Flexible Electronics (SIFE), Northwestern Polytechnical University (NPU), Xi’an, China

    • Wei Huang


  1. Search for Yu Cao in:

  2. Search for Nana Wang in:

  3. Search for He Tian in:

  4. Search for Jingshu Guo in:

  5. Search for Yingqiang Wei in:

  6. Search for Hong Chen in:

  7. Search for Yanfeng Miao in:

  8. Search for Wei Zou in:

  9. Search for Kang Pan in:

  10. Search for Yarong He in:

  11. Search for Hui Cao in:

  12. Search for You Ke in:

  13. Search for Mengmeng Xu in:

  14. Search for Ying Wang in:

  15. Search for Ming Yang in:

  16. Search for Kai Du in:

  17. Search for Zewu Fu in:

  18. Search for Decheng Kong in:

  19. Search for Daoxin Dai in:

  20. Search for Yizheng Jin in:

  21. Search for Gongqiang Li in:

  22. Search for Hai Li in:

  23. Search for Qiming Peng in:

  24. Search for Jianpu Wang in:

  25. Search for Wei Huang in:


J.W. had the idea for and designed the experiments. J.W. and W.H. supervised the work. Y.C. carried out device fabrication and characterizations, with the assistance of Y.M., H.Cao and Y.K.; Y.C., W.Z., M.X., Y.Wang, Z.F., D.K., Q.P., M.Y. and Y.H. conducted the optical measurements. Y.Wei and H.L. carried out AFM measurements. H.Chen, G.L. and Y.J. carried out FTIR characterizations. H.T. carried out high-resolution TEM and STEM characterizations with the assistance of Y.C., Y.Wei and K.D.; J.G. carried out optical simulations of the device with the assistance of K.P.; D.D. supervised the optical simulation. J.W., N.W. and Y.C. analysed the data. N.W. wrote the first draft of the manuscript and J.W. and W.H. provided major revisions. All authors discussed the results and commented on the manuscript.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Jianpu Wang or Wei Huang.

Extended data figures and tables

  1. Extended Data Fig. 1 Images of perovskite films.

    a, Photograph of a perovskite film on a 2 cm × 2 cm glass/ZnO-PEIE substrate, alongside a coin. The perovskite film is shiny and uniform. b, Optical microscope images with different magnifications. The scale bars represent 30 μm. c, SEM images with different magnifications. The scale bars represent 3 μm. d, High-magnification SEM images of randomly selected regions. The scale bars represent 3 μm. e, AFM images with different magnifications. The scale bars represent 2 μm. The images show the submicrometre-scale structure of the perovskite film.

  2. Extended Data Fig. 2 Characterization of our perovskite films and perovskite LEDs fabricated with different annealing times.

    a, SEM images of perovskite films. The scale bars represent 1 μm. The images show that as the annealing time increases, the crystallites grow from small particles and become larger and more faceted. When the annealing time is more than 6 min, similar submicrometre-scale structures form. b, XRD spectra. Crystallinity is enhanced as the annealing time increases, in agreement with the SEM images. c, Excitation-intensity-dependent PLQEs. Trap densities gradually decrease as the annealing time increases, resulting in PLQEs of more than 60% when the annealing time is between 16 and 20 min. d, Time-resolved photoluminescence (PL) decay transients (at a carrier density of 1.0 × 1013 cm−3). The films show longer PL decay lifetimes at longer annealing times. e, Dependence of current density and radiance on the driving voltage. The circles denote a bunch of curves; the arrows show the y axis to which a given bunch belongs. f, EQE versus current density. g, Peak EQE versus annealing time. An average peak EQE of more than 18% can be maintained with annealing times of between 14 and 20 min. Error bars correspond to the standard deviation.

  3. Extended Data Fig. 3 Formation of the organic layer surrounding the submicrometre structures.

    a, Dehydration reaction of 5AVA on top of the ZnO-PEIE surface36,37. b, Grazing-angle reflectance FTIR spectra of perovskite films at various annealing times. As the annealing time increases, the peak at 3,400–3,300 cm−1O–H in 5AVA) decreases; simultaneously, peaks appear at 1,620 cm−1 and 1,550 cm−1, which can be assigned as amide I band (νC = O) and amide II band (δN–H), respectively. These spectra indicate dehydration reactions of 5AVA, leading to the formation of an organic layer during annealing.

  4. Extended Data Fig. 4 Characterizations of perovskite films and LEDs with various 5AVA amounts.

    The ratio of 5AVA to FAI to PbI2 is x/2.4/1, where x varies from 0 to 0.9. a, SEM images. The scale bars represent 1 μm. The value of x is given in the top left corner of each image. The reference FAPbI3 perovskite film without 5AVA has low film coverage. Without 5AVA, the perovskites form discrete clusters with random shapes. After adding 5AVA, faceted perovskites with submicrometre structures gradually form. b, XRD spectra. The perovskite films show improved crystallinity with the addition of 5AVA. c, Excitation-intensity-dependent PLQE. After adding 5AVA, PLQEs were greatly enhanced, indicating reduced trap densities. d, Time-resolved PL decay transients (carrier density 1.0 × 1013 cm−3). There is a fast PL decay channel for the perovskite without 5AVA, indicating a high level of trap densities. This fast PL decay channel gradually disappears after adding 5AVA. e, Dependence of current density and radiance on the driving voltage. After adding 5AVA, the leakage current is reduced. f, EQE plotted against current density. g, Peak EQE plotted against 5AVA ratio. Error bars correspond to the standard deviation. After adding 5AVA, the peak EQE increases owing to reduced leakage current and enhanced PLQE. When the 5AVA ratio is increased to 0.9, the EQE decreases, owing to the inferior outcoupling efficiency that results from the more dispersed structural pattern.

  5. Extended Data Fig. 5 Simulation of outcoupling efficiency.

    a, Device structure. A typical reference device consists of a metal layer (Au), a 7-nm-thick MoO3 layer, a 40-nm-thick TFB layer, a 50-nm-thick emitting layer (EML), a 30-nm-thick layer of ZnO-PEIE, a 160-nm-thick ITO layer and a semi-infinite glass substrate. In our new device, the EML is replaced by a layer of perovskite squares distributed with a period P and a duty cycle le/P (where le is the length of the perovskite platelets, and le/P = 50%). The height of the convex structure of TFB is denoted as h and the diameter is set to le + 100 nm. b, Discretized map of the perovskite layer. The scale bar represents 1 μm. x and y are the pixel numbers in units of pixel length a. f(x,y) is the discrete function. c, Module of spatial frequency spectrum. Ux and Uy are the spatial frequencies. d, Refractive indices of different layers in our perovskite LEDs. Optical constants (n, k) of the multilayers were determined using an ellipsometer. Here the optical constants of perovskite are from a continuous FAPbI3 film, which are used in the simulation. e, EQE calculated as the period P and the convex height h. f, Calculated outcoupling efficiency as a function of period P with convex height h = 30 nm. The reference is a device made from continuous perovskite film. The simulation shows that the outcoupling efficiency can be more than 25% over a wide range of periods from 310 nm to 900 nm.

  6. Extended Data Fig. 6 EQE versus current density for our perovskite LED device at different temperatures.

    Measuring the device EQE at low temperatures minimizes nonradiative recombination so that the EQE reaches a value of 30% at 6 K.

  7. Extended Data Fig. 7 Characterization of our perovskite films and LEDs at different precursor concentrations.

    a, SEM images. The scale bars represent 1 μm. As the precursor concentration increases (shown in the top left corner of each image), the size of the crystallites increases and the crystallites become more tightly packed. b, XRD spectra. c, Excitation-intensity-dependent PLQEs. The 7 wt.% film shows the highest PLQEs. d, Dependence of current density on driving voltage. The leakage currents of the devices decrease as the precursor solution becomes more concentrated. e, Dependence of radiance on the driving voltage. As the precursor concentration increases, the turn-on voltage increases and the radiance decreases, probably owing to the poor charge transport of thicker film. f, EQE plotted against current density. g, Peak EQE versus precursor concentration. Error bars correspond to the standard deviation. When the concentration exceeds 10 wt.% the EQE decreases, probably because of a reduced outcoupling-enhancement effect and poor charge transport.

  8. Extended Data Fig. 8 Time-resolved photoluminescence decay transients of perovskites with different precursor concentrations.

    a, 5 wt.%. b, 7 wt.%. c, 10 wt.%. d, 15 wt.%. e, 20 wt.%. Charge carrier densities vary as indicated (black, blue, purple and green traces).

  9. Extended Data Fig. 9 Optoelectronic characteristics of perovskite LED devices fabricated with different amino acids in the precursor solution.

    a, SEM image of submicrometre-structured perovskites fabricated with 6ACA (chemical structure shown in white). The scale bar represents 1 μm. Inset, FFT pattern in a randomly selected region. The P range of 6ACA is 265–901 nm, yielding a calculated outcoupling efficiency of 28.9% ± 2.5%. b, SEM image of submicrometre-structured perovskites fabricated with 7AHA (chemical structure shown in white). The scale bar represents 1 μm. Inset, FFT pattern in a randomly selected region. The P range of 7AHA is 432–1,430 nm, yielding a calculated outcoupling efficiency of 26.4% ± 3.3%. c, Excitation-intensity-dependent PLQE. The perovskite films with 6ACA and 7AHA have similar PLQEs. d, Dependence of current density and radiance on the driving voltage. e, EQE versus current density. The 6ACA- and 7AHA-based devices reach peak EQEs of 18.2% and 17.3%, respectively. Given that the perovskite films based on 6ACA and 7AHA have similar PLQEs, the EQEs must be affected mainly by the different outcoupling efficiencies that result from the different periodicities of the submicrometre-scale structures. f, Electroluminescence spectra.

  10. Extended Data Table 1 Comparison of our device with reported high-performance organic LEDs
  11. Extended Data Table 2 Comparison of devices measured in different laboratories

About this article

Publication history






Further reading


By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.