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Al in ZnO - from doping to alloying. An investigation of Al electrical activation in relation to structure and charge transport limits

: Cornelius, Steffen; Vinnichenko, Mykola


Thin solid films 605 (2016), pp.20-29
ISSN: 0040-6090
Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Technologie BMWi
IGF; 16595 BG
Journal Article
Fraunhofer IKTS ()
transparent conductive oxide; zinc oxide; doping; charge transport; mobility; activation; magnetron; sputtering

The electrical activation of Al in ZnO thin films grown by pulsed reactive magnetron sputtering is quantified experimentally for a wide range of Al concentrations. We find that the activation does not exceed 35% remaining constant for growth temperatures below a certain optimum value at which the highest free electron density and mobility are achieved. Above this temperature, the Al activation decreases rapidly, while Al is accumulating in the films and their micro-structure as well as electrical properties deteriorate significantly. The analysis of possible mechanisms of Al deactivation suggests that the observed effects may be explained only by considering Al doped ZnO as metastable solid solution showing a tendency to segregation of Al into secondary phases.