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Induced conductivity in sol-gel ZnO films by passivation or elimination of Zn vacancies

Winarski, D. J.; Anwand, W.; Wagner, A.; Saadatkia, P.; Selim, F. A.; Allen, M.; Wenner, B.; Leedy, K.; Allen, J.; Tetlak, S.; Look, D. C.


Undoped and Ga- and Al- doped ZnO films were synthesized using sol-gel and spin coating methods and characterized by X-ray diffraction, high-resolution scanning electron microscopy (SEM), optical spectroscopy and Hall-effect measurements. SEM measurements reveal an average grain size of 20 nm and distinct individual layer structure. Measurable conductivity was not detected in the unprocessed films; however, annealing in hydrogen or zinc environment induced significant conductivity (~10^-2 Ohm cm) in most films. Positron annihilation spectroscopy measurements provided strong evidence that the significant enhancement in conductivity was due to hydrogen passivation of Zn vacancy related defects or elimination of Zn vacancies by Zn interstitials which suppress their role as deep acceptors. Hydrogen passivation of cation vacancies is shown to play an important role in tuning the electrical conductivity of ZnO, similar to its role in passivation of defects at the Si/SiO2 interface that has been essential for the successful development of complementary metal–oxide–semiconductor (CMOS) devices. By comparison with hydrogen effect on other oxides, we suggest that hydrogen may play a universal role in oxides passivating cation vacancies and modifying their electronic properties.

Keywords: ZnO conductivity sol-gel hydrogen passivation defects positron annihilation

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