One of the most challenging issues in transparent conductive oxides (TCOs) is to improve their conductivity without compromising transparency. High conductivity in TCO films often comes from a high carrier concentration, which is detrimental to transparency due to free carrier absorption. Here we show that UV laser crystallization (UVLC) of aluminum-doped ZnO (AZO) films prepared by pulsed laser deposition on sapphire results in much higher Hall mobility, allowing relaxation of the constraints of the conductivity/transparency trade-off. X-ray diffraction patterns and morphological characterizations show grain growth and crystallinity enhancement during UVLC, resulting in less film internal imperfections. Optoelectronic measurements show that UVLC dramatically improves the electron mobility, while the carrier concentration decreases which in turn simultaneously increases conductivity and transparency. AZO films under optimized UVLC achieve the highest electron mobility of 79 cm2/V s at a low carrier concentration of 7.9 × 10+19 cm-3. This is realized by a laser crystallization induced decrease of both grain boundary density and electron trap density at grain boundaries. The infrared (IR) to mid-IR range transmittance spectrum shows UVLC significantly enhances the AZO film transparency without compromising conductivity.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)