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Sustainable lead management in halide perovskite solar cells


Despite the rapid development of perovskite solar cells (PSCs) toward commercialization, the toxic lead (Pb) ions in PSCs pose a potential threat to the environment, health and safety. Managing Pb via recycling represents a promising approach to mitigating its toxicity. However, managing Pb from commonly used organic solvents has been challenging due to the lack of suitable Pb adsorbents. Here, we report a new adsorbent for both separation and recovery of Pb from PSC pollutants. The synthesized iron-incorporated hydroxyapatite possesses a strongly negatively charged surface that improves electrostatic interaction through surface-charge delocalization, thus leading to enhanced Pb adsorption. We demonstrate the feasibility of a complete Pb management process, including the purification of Pb-containing non-aqueous solvents below 15 parts per 109, a level compliant with the standards of the US Environmental Protection Agency, as well as recycling of 99.97% of Pb ions by forming lead iodide.

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Fig. 1: Synthesis of magnetic hollow HAP/Fe composite and its properties for Pb absorption.
Fig. 2: Impact of Fe incorporating on surface properties of HAP.
Fig. 3: Fe effects on HAP for Pb capturability.
Fig. 4: Illustration of the use of HAP/Fe composite for treating a Pb-containing solution pollutant and PbI2 regaining process after Pb removal/separation.

Data availability

The data that support the findings of this study are available within the Article and its Supplementary Information file and from the corresponding author upon reasonable request. Any available information on data resources used in or produced for the paper is provided.


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This work was supported by the Global Frontier R&D Program on Center for Multiscale Energy System funded by the National Research Foundation (under contract no. 2012M3A6A7054855), the Alchemist project of the Korea Institute of Energy Technology Evaluation and Planning (KETEP) granted financial resource from the Ministry of Trade, Industry & Energy (20193091010310), and the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) grant funded by the Korea government (MSIP) (NRF-2018M3C1B7021994 and 2019R1F1A1064095). This research was partially supported by the Ministry of Science, ICT and the Future Planning as Global Frontier Project (CAMM-2019M3A6B3030638). This research was also supported by the Defense Challengeable Future Technology Program of the Agency for Defense Development, Republic of Korea. The work at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) was supported by the De-Risking Halide Perovskite Solar Cells programme of the National Center for Photovoltaics, funded by the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Solar Energy Technologies Office, US Department of Energy (DOE) under contract no. DE-AC36-08GO28308 with the Alliance for Sustainable Energy, a Limited Liability Company (LLC), and the Manager and Operator of NREL. The views expressed in the article do not necessarily represent the views of the DOE or the US Government. Via our membership of the UK’s HEC Materials Chemistry Consortium, which is funded by EPSRC (EP/L000202), this work used the ARCHER UK National Supercomputing Service (

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Authors and Affiliations



H.S.J. and D.H.K. supervised this work. S.Y.P. and D.H.K. conceived the idea and designed the experiments. S.Y.P., D.H.K. and J.-S.P. discussed the mechanism and designed the experiment and theoretical calculations. S.Y.P. carried out the synthesis and characterization of materials and the Pb-management test. S.Y.P. and H.L. conducted the magnetic analysis of materials. J.-S.P. and A.W. designed and performed the theoretical calculations. B.J.K., D.H.K. and K.Z. performed the device fabrication and analysis. S.Y.P., J.-S.P., K.Z., D.H.K. and H.S.J. wrote the first draft of the manuscript, and all authors discussed the results and commented on the manuscript.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Dong Hoe Kim or Hyun Suk Jung.

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Supplementary information

Supplementary Information

Supplementary Figs. 1–15, Tables 1–3 and refs. 1–10.

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Supplementary Video 1

Protocol of Pb-purification in non-aqueous solvent using HAP/Fe composites.

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Park, S.Y., Park, JS., Kim, B.J. et al. Sustainable lead management in halide perovskite solar cells. Nat Sustain 3, 1044–1051 (2020).

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