Si-doped zinc oxide transparent conducting oxides; nanoparticle optimisation, scale-up and thin film deposition†
Silicon-doped zinc oxide, Zn1−xSixOy, transparent conducting oxide nanoparticles were prepared using a laboratory scale (production rate of 60 g h−1) continuous hydrothermal flow synthesis (CHFS) process in the dopant range 0.25 to 3.0 at% Si. The resistivity of the materials was assessed as pressed heat-treated pellets, revealing that the sample with the lowest resistivity (3.5 × 10−2 Ω cm) was the 0.25 at% Si doped ZnO sample. The synthesis of this optimum composition was then scaled up to 350 g h−1 using a larger pilot plant CHFS process. Spin coating of a slurry of the resulting nanopowder made on the pilot plant, followed by an appropriate heat-treatment, produced a thin film with an optical transmission >80% and a low resistivity of 2.4 × 10−3 Ω cm, with a carrier concentration of 1.02 × 1020 cm−3 and a mobility of 11 cm2 V−1 s−1. This is a factor of almost twenty times improvement in the resistivity versus the analogous pressed, heat-treated pellet.
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