Looking beyond the Surface: The Band Gap of Bulk Methylammonium Lead Iodide

Schuster O, Wientjes P, Shrestha S, Levchuk I, Sytnyk M, Matt G, Osvet A, Batentschuk M, Heiß W, Brabec C, Fauster T, Niesner D (2020)

Publication Type: Journal article

Publication year: 2020


Book Volume: 20

Pages Range: 3090-3097

Journal Issue: 5

DOI: 10.1021/acs.nanolett.9b05068


Despite the intense research on photovoltaic lead halide perovskites, reported optical properties as basic as the absorption onset and the optical band gap vary significantly. To unambiguously answer the question whether the discrepancies are a result of differences between bulk and "near-surface" material, we perform two nonlinear spectroscopies with drastically different information depths on single crystals of the prototypical (CH3NH3)PbI3 methylammonium lead iodide. Two-photon absorption, detected via the resulting generation of carriers and photocurrents (2PI-PC), probes the interband transitions with an information depth in the millimeter range relevant for bulk (single-crystal) material. In contrast, the transient magneto-optical Kerr effect (trMOKE) measured in a reflection geometry determines the excitonic transition energies in the region near (hundreds of nm) the surface which also determine the optical properties in typical thin films. To identify differences between structural phases, we sweep the sample temperature across the orthorhombic-tetragonal phase transition temperature. In the application-relevant room-temperature tetragonal phase (at 170 K), we find a bulk band gap of 1.55 ± 0.01 eV, whereas in the near-surface region excitonic transitions occur at 1.59 ± 0.01 eV. The latter value is consistent with previous reflectance measurements by other groups and considerably higher than the bulk band gap. The small band gap of the bulk material explains the extended infrared absorption of crystalline perovskite solar cells, the low-energy bands which carry optically driven spin-polarized currents, and the narrow bandwidth of crystalline perovskite photodetectors making use of the spectral filtering at the surface.

Authors with CRIS profile

How to cite


Schuster, O., Wientjes, P., Shrestha, S., Levchuk, I., Sytnyk, M., Matt, G.,... Niesner, D. (2020). Looking beyond the Surface: The Band Gap of Bulk Methylammonium Lead Iodide. Nano Letters, 20(5), 3090-3097. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.nanolett.9b05068


Schuster, Oskar, et al. "Looking beyond the Surface: The Band Gap of Bulk Methylammonium Lead Iodide." Nano Letters 20.5 (2020): 3090-3097.

BibTeX: Download