ConspectusHybrid alkylammonium lead halide perovskite solar cells have, in a very few years of research, exceeded a light-to-electricity conversion efficiency of 20%, not far behind crystalline silicon cells. These perovskites do not contain any rare element, the amount of toxic lead used is very small, and the cells can be made with a low energy input. They therefore already conform to two of the three requirements for viable, commercial solar cells-efficient and cheap. The potential deal-breaker is their long-term stability. While reasonable short-term (hours) and even medium term (months) stability has been demonstrated, there is concern whether they will be stable for the two decades or more expected from commercial cells in view of the intrinsically unstable nature of these materials. In particular, they have a tendency to be sensitive to various types of irradiation, including sunlight, under certain conditions.This Account focuses on the effect of irradiation on the hybrid (and to a small degree, all-inorganic) lead halide perovskites and their solar cells. It is split up into two main sections. First, we look at the effect of electron beams on the materials. This is important, since such beams are used for characterization of both the perovskites themselves and cells made from them (electron microscopy for morphological and compositional characterization; electron beam-induced current to study cell operation mechanism; cathodoluminescence for charge carrier recombination studies). Since the perovskites are sensitive to electron beam irradiation, it is important to minimize beam damage to draw valid conclusions from such measurements. The second section treats the effect of visible and solar UV irradiation on the perovskites and their cells. As we show, there are many such effects. However, those affecting the perovskite directly need not necessarily always be detrimental to the cells, while those affecting the solar cells, which are composed of several other phases as well as the perovskite light absorber, are not always due to the perovskite itself. While we cannot yet say whether perovskite solar cells will or will not be stable over the long-term, the information in this Account should be a useful source to help achieve this goal.
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© 2016 American Chemical Society.