The effects of the aluminium concentration on optical and electrical properties of AZO thin films as a transparent conductive layer

In this paper, we studied the effects of the aluminium dopant concentration on the optical and electrical properties of aluminium doped zinc oxide (AZO) thin films grown on soda-glass substrates by a simple chemical method. The amount of aluminium in the compound was varied from 0 to 5 atomic percent (at.%), and the typical thickness of the films produced was about 300 nm. The thin films were characterized by scanning electron microscopy and X-ray diffraction to investigate the morphology and crystallinity of the samples. The optical properties of the thin films were studied by UV-Vis spectroscopy to determinate absorption, transmittance, and the diffuse reflectance. In addition, the photoluminescence properties of the thin films, excited with a 320 nm UV laser beam, were investigated. The effects of the aluminium concentration on these optical properties are discussed. The films with 2 and 5 % doping had excellent optical transmittance (~85-90 %) in the 400-1100 nm wavelength range. The photoluminescence spectra of the AZO films revealed UV near band edge emission peaks in the 378-401 nm range and an oxygen-vacancy related peak around 471 nm. The addition of aluminium changed the band gap of zinc oxide from 3.29 to 3.41 eV, and the appearance of a new level was observed in the band gap at the higher aluminium doping concentrations. The AZO thin films showed good conductivity (in the order of 10-2Ω cm) which allows their use as transparent electrodes. Moreover, the AZO thin films were stable in open air for 30 days.