New Route for "cold-Passivation" of Defects in Tin-Based Oxides

Esteban Rucavado*, Migle Graužinyte, José A. Flores-Livas, Quentin Jeangros, Federica Landucci, Yeonbae Lee, Takashi Koida, Stefan Goedecker, Aïcha Hessler-Wyser, Christophe Ballif, Monica Morales-Masis* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)
101 Downloads (Pure)


Transparent conductive oxides (TCOs) are essential in technologies coupling light and electricity. For Sn-based TCOs, oxygen deficiencies and undercoordinated Sn atoms result in an extended density of states below the conduction band edge. Although shallow states provide free carriers necessary for electrical conductivity, deeper states inside the band gap are detrimental to transparency. In zinc tin oxide (ZTO), the overall optoelectronic properties can be improved by defect passivation via annealing at high temperatures. Yet, the high thermal budget associated with such treatment is incompatible with many applications. Here, we demonstrate an alternative, low-temperature passivation method, which relies on cosputtering Sn-based TCOs with silicon dioxide (SiO 2). Using amorphous ZTO and amorphous/polycrystalline tin dioxide (SnO 2) as representative cases, we demonstrate through optoelectronic characterization and density functional theory simulations that the SiO 2 contribution is twofold. First, oxygen from SiO 2 passivates the oxygen deficiencies that form deep defects in SnO 2 and ZTO. Second, the ionization energy of the remaining deep defect centers is lowered by the presence of silicon atoms. Remarkably, we find that these ionized states do not contribute to sub-gap absorptance. This simple passivation scheme significantly improves the optical properties without affecting the electrical conductivity, hence overcoming the known transparency-conductivity trade-off in Sn-based TCOs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17612-17620
Number of pages9
JournalThe Journal of physical chemistry C
Issue number31
Publication statusPublished - 9 Aug 2018


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