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DEMONH Report Summary

Project ID: 655844
Funded under: H2020-EU.1.3.2.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - DEMONH (DEsign of Multifunctional 2D-OrgaNic Hybrids)

Reporting period: 2016-01-01 to 2017-12-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

Applying state-of-the-art computational modeling techniques, we have addressed important issues associated with the electro-optical properties and charge transport in semiconducting materials, namely the role of point defects in the photophysics of 2D materials like MoS2 and 2D/3D organic-inorganic hybrid perovskites.

While this project is focusing on the fundamental understanding in 2D and 3D materials, it is of paramount importance to the society. The eventual technologies and commercial advantage of the 2D and 3D materials will be assessed in view of the development and direct commercialization of multicomponent thus multifunctional materials as a new class of chemical products. The possibilities to establish direct collaborations with private companies will be possible, in terms of assessing the potential application of a multicomponent approach to new, still unforeseen, technological sectors.

The overall objective is to develop different theoretical methods which could be potentially used to understanding the charge transport, phonon adsorption/emission in 2D inorganic materials (e.g., MoS2) as well as electronic excitations in 2D and 3D organic-inorganic hybrid perovskites with and without defects.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

In this project, the Fellow developed/adopted the Boltzmann transport theory and TDDFT approaches to simulate the charge mobility and explore the photophysics in pristine/defective 2D and 3D materials.
(i) Boltzmann theory forms the basis for describing charge transport in a weak external field. To elucidate the exact nature of charge transport at various levels of disorder, the Fellow went beyond the state of the art and incorporated the impurity scattering into the Boltzmann theory. The Fellow applied the improved semi-classical Boltzmann transport theory to the field-effect devices based on monolayer MoS2 with controlled sulfur vacancies via argon-ion bombardment. The simulated band electron mobility values were corrected to account for the nonlinear dependence of mobile, free, charge carriers with gate voltage. The resulting field-effect mobility showed a power-law dependence with the concentration of sulfur vacancies, much consistent with the experimentally measured results. Such an evolution is ascribed to the combined effect of coulomb impurity scattering and the free versus total charge density renormalization factor.
(ii) Lead iodide methylammonium perovskites (MAPbI3) polycrystalline materials show complex opto-electronic behavior, largely because their three-dimensional semiconducting inorganic framework is strongly perturbed by the organic cations and ubiquitous structural or chemical inhomogeneities. Here, the Fellow took advantage of the newly developed TDDFT-based theoretical formalism that treats electron-hole and electron-nuclei interactions on the same footing to assess the many-body excited states of MAPbI3 perovskites in their pristine state and in the presence of point chemical defects. It was shown that lead and iodine vacancies yield deep trap states that can be healed by dynamic effects, namely rotation of the methylammonium cations in response to point charges, or through slight changes in chemical composition, namely by introducing a tiny amount of chlorine dopants in the defective MAPbI3. The theoretical results are supported by PL experiments on MAPbI3-mClm and pave the way towards the design of defect-free perovskite materials with optoelectronic performance approaching the theoretical limits. The Fellow expected these healing effects to be suppressed in pure inorganic lead-halide perovskites (like, e.g., CsPbI3), which might be the reason for their lower photoconversion quantum yields.
(iii) The state-of-the-art progress suggests the perovskites with formamidinium (FA) cations reach power conversion efficiency exceeding 20%. However, the picture that the dipolar nature of the MA cations heals the defects in MAPbI3 seems invalid in FA-based perovskites due to the much weaker dipoles of FA cations. Meanwhile, the organic cations are reported to be not essential in the lead bromide perovskites. Hence, the puzzles pertaining to the role of organic cations in the organic-inorganic hybrid perovskites still remain. Taking advantage of the TDDFT formalism which treats electron-hole and electron-nuclei interactions on the same footing, the Fellow revealed that the spatial extent of the electronic excitations in defective lead iodide perovskites including MAPbI3 and FAPbI3 is controlled by the size of organic cations. Yet, the role of organic cations is largely weakened as the inorganic lattices shrink, yielding rather similar primary photoexcitations in MAPbBr3 and FAPbBr3 perovskites. These different excited-state properties are ascribed to the varied rigidity in these perovskites.
(iv) The Fellow revealed that the photo-excited charge densities at/near the surfaces of MAPbI3 are sensitively dependent on the orientations of the organic cations. Interestingly, the Fellow noticed that the hydrogen bonding plays a role of stabilizing the surface geometries under solar illumination.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

The Fellow performed progresses in two aspects:
(i) the state-of-the-art Boltzmann transport theory (including phonon scattering) was improved greatly by including the scattering of both phonon and impurity, which can be used not only to simulate the band mobility, but also the field-effect mobility in 2D and 3D materials.
(ii) Besides the inorganic 2D materials, the 2D organic-inorganic perovskites receive great attention in recent years owning to great potential of their application in opto-electronic devices. Hence, the Fellow adopted the newly developed TDDFT formalism aiming to assess geometry relaxation in the excited state. This TDDFT method targets large-scale systems in the framework of linear response theory and has been implemented in conjunction with the use of pseudopotentials and plane-wave basis set.
The present progresses may have several potential impact below:
(i) The Fellow and host can have a possible breakthrough in the current fundamental understanding of 2D and 3D materials, including inorganic and inorganic-organic hybrid cases, and take advantage of the acquired knowledge to identify strategies yielding improved materials and device architectures.
(ii) The progress will contribute to the development of new concepts to exploit the unique opportunities offered by 2D and 3D crystals as well as their combination in multiple heterojunction device architectures.
(iii) While the present progress is centered around knowledge and the fundamental understanding in 2D and 3D materials, the potential social-economic and technological impact are enormous. It is worth noting that the most revolutionary applications of 2D and 3D materials will probably not be a simple substitution of silicon to fabricate transistors, but it will rather provide access to new products, different from integrated circuits, that will confer information and communication functionalities in traditionally non-electronic products. The present progress in 2D and 3D materials provide new direction in the information and communication technologies field and the potential for scientific breakthroughs.
(iv) The present progress on 3D lead-halide perovskites promotes the understanding of the defect physics in the lead-halide perovskite family, which paves the way towards designing defect-free perovskites as photovoltaic materials.

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