Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Transparent Conductive Oxide Nanocrystals Coated with Insulators by ALD

Here is an interesting paper on transparent conductive oxide (TCO) nanocrystals coated by ALD Department of Energy, St. Louis and University of Texas at Austin, USA. As stated in teh paper, it has recently been demonstrated that filling in initially insulating films comprised of TCO nanocrystals with another insulator by ALD dramatically increases the conductivity by many orders of magnitude. 

The researchers report on the mechanism how ALD coating increases conductivity for Al2O3 and HfO2 ALD coating of ZnO TCO nanocrystals. Please check the graphical abstract and linked publication below for full details.

Transparent Conductive Oxide Nanocrystals Coated with Insulators by Atomic Layer Deposition

John Ephraim, Deanna Lanigan, Corey Staller, Delia J. Milliron, and Elijah Thimsen

Chem. Mater., 2016, 28 (15), pp 5549–5553
DOI: 10.1021/acs.chemmater.6b02414
.

Abstract

Thin films comprised of transparent conductive oxide (TCO) nanocrystals are attractive for a number of optoelectronic applications. However, it is often observed that the conductivity of such films is very low when they are in contact with air. It has recently been demonstrated, somewhat surprisingly, that filling in initially insulating films comprised of TCO nanocrystals with another insulator by atomic layer deposition (ALD) dramatically increases the conductivity by many orders of magnitude. This work aims to elucidate the mechanism by which the ALD coating increases conductivity. We examined the effect of removing two adsorbed oxygen species (physisorbed molecular water and chemisorbed hydroxide) on sheet resistance and compared this result to the results with thin films comprised of ZnO nanocrystals coated with Al2O3 and also HfO2 by ALD. Although both insulating infills decrease the sheet resistance and increase the stability of the films, there is a stark discrepancy between the two. From the in situ measurements, it was found that coating with Al2O3 removes both physisorbed water and chemisorbed hydroxide, resulting in a net reduction of the ZnO nanocrystals. Coating with HfO2 removes only physisorbed water, which was confirmed by Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy. A similar phenomenon was observed when thin films comprised of Sn-doped In2O3 nanocrystals were coated, suggesting Al2O3 can be used to reduce and stabilize metal oxide nanocrystals in general.

[Reprinted with permission from American Chemical Society. Copyright 2016 American Chemical Society,Chem. Mater., 2016, 28 (15), pp 5549–5553,  Account #: 3000915597]