Babayigit, A., Duy Thanh, D., Ethirajan, A., Manca, J., Muller, M., Boyen, H.G., Conings, B. (2016) Assessing the toxicity of Pb- and Sn-based perovskite solar cells in model organism Danio rerio. Scientific Reports. 6:18721.
Intensive development of organometal halide perovskite solar cells has lead to a dramatic surge in power conversion efficiency up to 20%. Unfortunately, the most efficient perovskite solar cells all contain lead (Pb), which is an unsettling flaw that leads to severe environmental concerns and is therefore a stumbling block envisioning their large-scale application. Aiming for the retention of favorable electro-optical properties, tin (Sn) has been considered the most likely substitute. Preliminary studies have however shown that Sn-based perovskites are highly unstable and, moreover, Sn is also enlisted as a harmful chemical, with similar concerns regarding environment and health. To bring more clarity into the appropriateness of both metals in perovskite solar cells, we provide a case study with systematic comparison regarding the environmental impact of Pb- and Sn-based perovskites, using zebrafish (Danio Rerio) as model organism. Uncovering an unexpected route of intoxication in the form of acidification, it is shown that Sn based perovskite may not be the ideal Pb surrogate.