Highly efficient solar cells containing lead halide perovskites are expected to revolutionize sustainable energy production in the coming years. Perovskites are generally assumed to be toxic because of the lead (Pb), but experimental evidence to support this prediction is scarce. We tested the toxicity of the perovskite MAPbI3 (MA = CH3NH3) and several precursors in Arabidopsis thaliana plants. Both MAPbI3 and the precursor MAI hamper plant growth at concentrations above 5 μM. Lead-based precursors without iodide are only toxic above 500 μM. Iodine accumulation in Arabidopsis correlates with growth inhibition at much lower concentrations than lead. This reveals that perovskite toxicity at low concentrations is caused by iodide ions specifically, instead of lead. We calculate that toxicity thresholds for iodide, but not lead, are likely to be reached in soils upon perovskite leakage. This work stresses the importance to further understand and predict harmful effects of iodide-containing perovskites in the environment.

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Elsevier/ Cell Press , The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO)
Hybrid Solar Cells

Hutter, E., Sangster, R., Testerink, C., Ehrler, B., & Gommers, C. M. M. (2022). Metal halide perovskite toxicity effects on Arabidopsis thaliana plants are caused by iodide ions. iScience, 25(1), 103583: 1–9. doi:10.1016/j.isci.2021.103583