Combining Zinc Oxide and Silver for Potential Optoelectronic Applications
Thesis DisciplineElectrical Engineering
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
Semiconductors represent the enabling technology that underpins the many advances that define modern society. One semiconductor that shows considerable promise in the fabrication of new devices is zinc oxide (ZnO). A fundamental understanding of the properties of a material is required in order to exploit its properties. The behaviour of dopants and defects relevant to optoelectronic device fabrication is of particular interest. However, acceptor doping of ZnO is currently controversial, as successful and reproducible acceptor doping has not yet been achieved. Acceptor doping of ZnO using silver (Ag) is explored in this thesis to contribute towards the understanding of defect introduction in ZnO. In addition, there is also increasing interest in exploring materials with unconventional properties, commonly referred to as metamaterials, particularly for optical applications. The previously unexplored unique combination of Ag and ZnO may enable the fabrication of those devices. Several key factors that affect heteroepitaxy film quality, and ultimately its properties, are buffer layers and substrate temperature. A lattice match between sapphire and ZnO was provided by using buffer layers of 1 nm magnesium oxide (MgO) and 7.9 nm low temperature ZnO. The highest quality film was grown at the highest temperature (800°C), with rms roughness of 2.9 nm, carrier concentration of 3.6x10¹⁶ cm⁻³, and mobility of 105 cm²/Vs. In contrast, dopant (Ag) incorporation occurs more readily below 600°C, with dopant incorporation of up to 1020 cm⁻³ measured. Ag manifests as a deep acceptor (up to 94% substitutionally on Zn lattice sites), as evident from decreasing carrier concentration with increasing Ag flux, and DLTS measurements indicating an acceptor trap at 319 meV. This suggests that Ag is suitable for introducing compensation in ZnO, but Ag acceptors are not sufficiently shallow to result in p-type material. However, the unique combination of ZnO and Ag also enables the fabrication of a novel device, namely a superlens. Initial experimental results show the possibility of imaging a 100 nm line as 132 nm, compared with the diffraction-limited resolution of 332 nm for the same line feature.