A comparative study on physical properties of Al-doped zinc oxide thin films deposited from zinc acetate and zinc acetylacetonate by spray pyrolysis

  • Jako Siim Eensalu
  • Malle Krunks
  • Inga Gromyko
  • Atanas Katerski
  • Arvo Mere
Keywords: AZO, Al-doped ZnO, pneumatic spray pyrolysis, thin films


Herein we present a comparative study on highly transparent, conductive aluminium-doped ZnO (AZO) thin films deposited by pneumatic spray pyrolysis (PSP) of a zinc acetate based solution and a zinc acetylacetonate based solution on soda lime glass. The structural, optical and electrical properties of the films were studied depending on aluminium content in the precursor solution and substrate temperature during deposition (Ts). The solution used to prepare AZO thin films contained 0.2 M zinc acetate or 0.2 M zinc acetylacetonate and aluminium acetylacetonate between 0–15 at.% [Al]/[Zn]. Substrate temperature was varied from 275 to 450 °C. Transmittance and reflectance spectra were recorded by UV-VIS-NIR spectroscopy. Resistivity, mobility and charge carrier density were determined by four point probe measurements in ambient conditions. According to X-ray diffraction analysis, AZO films are highly c-axis oriented until 2–3 at.% [Al]/[Zn] in the spray solution, depending on zinc precursor. Crystallite size is 25–30 nm for AZO films deposited at Ts 400 °C. All AZO films exhibited high average optical transmittance of 76–94% in the visible spectrum 400–800 nm wavelength range. Eg values ranged from 3.32 in undoped ZnO to 3.58 eV in in highly doped AZO films deposited from zinc acetylacetonate due to the formation of secondary AlOx phases. The lowest resistivities were obtained at Ts 400 °C for films deposited from zinc acetate, 3–7.5 at.% [Al]/[Zn] in solution (0.40 Ωcm) and at Ts 400 °C, 3–7.5 at.% [Al]/[Zn] in solution for films deposited from zinc acetylacetonate (0.47 Ωcm).
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