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Influence of Annealing Temperature on ZnO Thin Films Prepared by Single and Multi-step Sol-gel Processes

  • Lee Huat Kelly Koh (a1), Shane O'Brien (a2), Pierre Lovera (a3), Gareth Redmond (a4) and Gabriel M Crean (a5)...

Abstract

ZnO thin films were prepared on borosilicate glass from both single- and multi- step coating deposition of a sol-gel prepared with anhydrous zinc acetate [Zn(C2H3O2)2], monoethanolamine [H2NC2H4OH ] and isopropanol. ZnO films prepared over a range of zinc acetate concentrations, for a fixed annealing temperature, showed that sol-gels prepared with a 0.3M zinc acetate concentration resulted in the formation of films with the greatest degree of c-axis orientation. In this study, a detailed investigation of the influence of process annealing temperature over the range 450 – 550°C on the microstructural, physical, electronic and optical properties of these single and multi-step ZnO thin films around this 0.3M zinc concentration set point is presented. X-ray analysis showed that all single-step deposition thin films were preferentially orientated along the [002] c-axis direction of the crystal. In contrast, only the multi-layer film annealed at 550°C showed similar preferential orientation. All single step deposited films showed a similar average optical transmittance above 87%, independent of annealing temperature. The transmittance of the multi-step films was shown to be strongly correlated to the degree of c-axis orientation. The optical band-gap energy was evaluated to be 3.298 – 3.316 eV for all samples. The photoluminescence spectra of the single layer ZnO films showed a strong emission centred at ca. 405 nm, which blue shifted with increasing annealing temperature. The multi-layer ZnO samples emitted throughout the UV and the visible range, with the samples prepared at 500 and 550°C showing the expected ZnO emission peak at 380 nm. Despite being thicker, the emission from the multi- layer samples was less than measured for the single layer samples. The effect of sol-gel annealing temperature and deposition process on film microstructure, morphology, electrical resistivity and optical transparency is detailed.

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