Electrochromic lithium nickel oxide by pulsed laser deposition and sputtering
Thin films of lithium nickel oxide were deposited by sputtering and pulsed laser deposition (PLD) from targets of pressed LiNiO2 powder. The composition and structure of these films were analyzed using a variety of techniques, such as nuclear-reaction analysis, Rutherford backscattering spectrometry (RBS), X-ray diffraction, infrared spectroscopy, and atomic-force microscopy. Crystalline structure, surface morphology and chemical composition of LixNi1−xO thin films depend strongly on deposition oxygen pressure, temperature as well as substrate–target distance. The films produced at temperatures lower than 600°C spontaneously absorb CO2 and H2O at their surface once they are exposed to the air. The films deposited at 600°C proved to be stable in air over a long period. Even at room temperature the PLD films are denser and more stable than sputtered films. RBS determined the composition of the best films to be Li0.5Ni0.5O deposited by PLD at 60 mTorr O2 pressure. Electrochemical tests show that the films exhibit excellent reversibility in the range 1.0–3.4 V versus lithium. Electrochemical formatting which is used to develop electrochromism in other films is not needed for the stoichiometric films. The optical transmission range is almost 70% at 550 nm for 150 nm-thick films. Devices made from these films were analyzed using novel reference electrodes and by disassembling after cycling.