Direct Observation of Ferroelectric Domains in Solution-Processed CH3NH3PbI3 Perovskite Thin Films

A new generation of solid-state photovoltaics is being made possible by the use of organometal-trihalide perovskite materials. While some of these materials are expected to be ferroelectric, almost nothing is known about their ferroelectric properties experimentally. Using piezoforce microscopy (PFM), here we show unambiguously, for the first time, the presence of ferroelectric domains in high-quality β-CH3NH3PbI3 perovskite thin films that have been synthesized using a new solution-processing method. The size of the ferroelectric domains is found to be about the size of the grains (∼100 nm). We also present evidence for the reversible switching of the ferroelectric domains by poling with DC biases. This suggests the importance of further PFM investigations into the local ferroelectric behavior of hybrid perovskites, in particular in situ photoeffects. Such investigations could contribute toward the basic understanding of photovoltaic mechanisms in perovskite-based solar cells, which is essential for the further enhancement of the performance of these promising photovoltaics.