Solid solubility of rare earth elements (Nd, Eu, Tb) in In2−xSnxO3 – effect on electrical conductivity and optical properties
Wide band-gap semiconductors doped with luminescent rare earth elements (REEs) have attracted recent interest due to their unique optical properties. Here we report on the synthesis of the transparent conducting oxides (TCOs) indium oxide and indium tin oxide (ITO) doped with neodymium, europium and terbium. The solid solubility in the systems was investigated and isothermal phase diagrams at 1400 °C were proposed. The solubility of the REEs in In2O3 is mainly determined by the size of the rare earth dopant, while in ITO the solid solubility was reduced due to a strong tendency of the tin and REE co-dopants to form a pyrochlore phase. The effect of the REE-doping on the conductivity of the host was determined and optical activity of the REE dopants were investigated in selected host materials. The conductivity of sintered materials of REE-doped In2O3 was significantly reduced, even at small doping concentrations, due to a decrease in carrier mobility. The same decrease in mobility was not observed in thin films of the material processed at lower temperatures. Strong emissions at around 611 nm were observed for Eu-doped In2O3, demonstrating the possibility of obtaining photoluminescence in a TCO host, while no emissions was observed for Nd- and Tb-doping.