The Surface Chemistry and Structure of Colloidal Lead Halide Perovskite Nanocrystals

Publication Date



Ames Laboratory; Chemistry

Campus Units

Ames Laboratory, Chemistry



Report Number

IS-J 10410



Journal Title

Accounts of Chemical Research

Volume Number


Issue Number


First Page


Last Page



Since the initial discovery of colloidal lead halide perovskite nanocrystals, there has been significant interest placed on these semiconductors because of their remarkable optoelectronic properties, including very high photoluminescence quantum yields, narrow size- and composition-tunable emission over a wide color gamut, defect tolerance, and suppressed blinking. These material attributes have made them attractive components for next-generation solar cells, light emitting diodes, low-threshold lasers, single photon emitters, and X-ray scintillators. While a great deal of research has gone into the various applications of colloidal lead halide perovskite nanocrystals, comparatively little work has focused on the fundamental surface chemistry of these materials. While the surface chemistry of colloidal semiconductor nanocrystals is generally affected by their particle morphology, surface stoichiometry, and organic ligands that contribute to the first coordination sphere of their surface atoms, these attributes are markedly different in lead halide perovskite nanocrystals because of their ionicity.

In this Account, emerging work on the surface chemistry of lead halide perovskite nanocrystals is highlighted, with a particular focus placed on the most-studied composition of CsPbBr3. We begin with an in-depth exploration of the native surface chemistry of as-prepared, 0-D cuboidal CsPbBr3 nanocrystals, including an atomistic description of their surface termini, vacancies, and ionic bonding with ligands. We then proceed to discuss various post-synthetic surface treatments that have been developed to increase the photoluminescence quantum yields and stability of CsPbBr3 nanocrystals, including the use of tetraalkylammonium bromides, metal bromides, zwitterions, and phosphonic acids, and how these various ligands are known to bind to the nanocrystal surface. To underscore the effect of post-synthetic surface treatments on the application of these materials, we focus on lead halide perovskite nanocrystal-based light emitting diodes, and the positive effect of various surface treatments on external quantum efficiencies. We also discuss the current state-of-the-art in the surface chemistry of 1-D nanowires and 2-D nanoplatelets of CsPbBr3, which are more quantum confined than the corresponding cuboidal nanocrystals but also generally possess a higher defect density because of their increased surface area-to-volume ratios.

DOE Contract Number(s)

FG02-11ER46826; AC02-07CH11358




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