Unusual photophysical properties of organic–inorganic hybrid perovskites have not only enabled exceptional performance in optoelectronic devices, but also led to debates on the nature of charge carriers in these materials. This study makes the first observation of intense terahertz (THz) emission from the hybrid perovskite methylammonium lead iodide (CH3NH3PbI3) following photoexcitation, enabling an ultrafast probe of charge separation, hot‐carrier transport, and carrier–lattice coupling under 1‐sun‐equivalent illumination conditions. Using this approach, the initial charge separation/transport in the hybrid perovskites is shown to be driven by diffusion and not by surface fields or intrinsic ferroelectricity. Diffusivities of the hot and band‐edge carriers along the surface normal direction are calculated by analyzing the emitted THz transients, with direct implications for hot‐carrier device applications. Furthermore, photogenerated carriers are found to drive coherent terahertz‐frequency lattice distortions, associated with reorganizations of the lead‐iodide octahedra as well as coupled vibrations of the organic and inorganic sublattices. This strong and coherent carrier–lattice coupling is resolved on femtosecond timescales and found to be important both for resonant and far‐above‐gap photoexcitation. This study indicates that ultrafast lattice distortions play a key role in the initial processes associated with charge transport.
While grain boundaries (GBs) in conventional inorganic semiconductors are frequently considered as detrimental for photogenerated carrier transport, their exact role remains obscure for the emerging hybrid perovskite semiconductors. A primary challenge for GB-property investigations is that experimentally they need to be performed at the top surface, which is not only insensitive to depth-dependent inhomogeneities but also could be susceptible to topographic artifacts. Accordingly, we have developed a unique approach based on tomographic atomic force microscopy, achieving a fully-3D, photogenerated carrier transport map at the nanoscale in hybrid perovskites. This reveals GBs serving as highly interconnected conducting channels for carrier transport. We have further discovered the coexistence of two GB types in hybrid perovskites, one exhibiting enhanced carrier mobilities, while the other is insipid. Our approach reveals otherwise inaccessible buried features and previously unresolved conduction pathways, crucial for optimizing hybrid perovskites for various optoelectronic applications including solar cells and photodetectors.more » « less
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Publisher / Repository:
- Nature Publishing Group
- Date Published:
- Journal Name:
- Nature Communications
- Medium: X
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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