March 01, 2021
I’m a mineral with a Russian name.
What molecule am I?
Image of Perovskite 3D Image of Perovskite

Perovskite is a mineral that consists of calcium titanate (CaTiO3), also known as calcium titanium oxide. CaTiO3 is colorless, but perovskite takes on the colors of various impurities, such as iron and copper. The mineral occurs as orthorhombic crystals.

University of Berlin mineralogist Gustavus Rose discovered perovskite in the Ural Mountains of Russia in 1839. He named the substance after Russian mineralogist and nobleman Lev Perovski.

The name “perovskite” is also used broadly for compounds with the structure ABX3, in which A is a metal with oxidation state 2+; B is a metal with oxidation state 4+; and X is a nonmetal, usually oxygen, with oxidation state 2–. Minerals composed of these compounds are likewise called perovskites.

Perovskite, along with the minerals rutile and ilmenite, is valuable as a titanium ore. In addition to Russia, it occurs in such diverse locations as Switzerland, Italy, and Arkansas.

Many oxides with the perovskite structure have physical and chemical properties that make them useful in electronic devices. Their characteristics include electrical conductivity; oxide ion mobility through crystal lattices; thermal and chemical stability; and supermagnetic, photocatalytic, thermoelectric, and dielectric properties. CaTiO3 in particular exhibits strong electrical and ionic conductivity.

Perovskite hazard information

Hazard class*Hazard statement
Not a hazardous substance or mixture 

*Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals.

MOTW update: June 27, 2022

The mineral perovskite is calcium titanate (CaTiO3), but many inorganic compounds with the structure ABX3 are also called perovskites. These substances have several uses, including photovoltaics in solar cells. This month, Lijun Zhang at Jilin University (Changchun, China), Hairen Tan at Nanking University (China), and their colleagues announced a record for the certified energy conversion efficiency of perovskites in flexible thin-film photovoltaics: 24.4%, compared with the previous record of 19.9%.

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fast facts

CAS Reg. No.12194-71-7
Perovskite [Ca(TiO3)]
Empirical formulaCaO3Ti
Molar mass135.94 g/mol
AppearanceBlack, brown, yellow, or orange crystals
Melting point1975 ºC
Water solubilityInsoluble

Over the years, readers have noted that ionic substances are not actually molecules. This is correct, but we use "molecules" in the broadest sense to include them in Molecule of the Week.—Ed.

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