We study the mechanisms of CH3NH3PbI3 degradation and its transformation to PbI2 by means of X-ray diffraction and the density functional theory. The experimental analysis shows that the material can degrade in both air and vacuum conditions, with humidity and temperature-annealing strongly accelerating such process. Based on ab initio calculations, we argue that even in the absence of humidity, a decomposition of the perovskite structure can take place through the statistical formation of molecular defects with a non-ionic character, whose volatility at surfaces should break the thermodynamic defect equilibria. We finally discuss the strategies that can limit such phenomenon and subsequently prolong the lifetime of the material.

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