Microstructure and performance of AZO thin films prepared by sol-gel processing
Al-doped zinc oxide (AZO) films were prepared by a wet-chemical coating technique, their microstructure and crystal growth were characterized as a function of the single layer thickness. When similar final thicknesses are attained by more multiple subsequent coating-firing cycles, film porosity is reduced from over 14 to 2 %. Simultaneously the AZO crystallite size is increased from approximately 23 to 60 nm, a preferential c-axis oriented growth is observed. Different substrates (soda-lime glass, soda-lime glass with a SiO2 barrier coating, borosilicate glass and alkali-free display glass) were used and the resulting AZO films were compared. It is found that the substrate composition primarily affects grain growth and subsequently the electrical performance of the AZO films.