High quality ZnO:Al transparent conducting oxide films synthesized by pulsed filtered cathodic arc deposition
Aluminum-doped zinc oxide, ZnO:Al or AZO, is a well-known n-type transparent conducting oxide with great potential in a number of applications currently dominated by indium tin oxide (ITO). In this study, the optical and electrical properties of AZO thin films deposited on glass and silicon by pulsed filtered cathodic arc deposition are systematically studied. In contrast to magnetron sputtering, this technique does not produce energetic negative ions, and therefore ion damage can be minimized. The quality of the AZO films strongly depends on the growth temperature while only marginal improvements are obtained with post-deposition annealing. The best films, grown at a temperature of about 200°C, have resistivities in the low to mid 10-4Ω cm range with a transmittance better than 85% in the visible part of the spectrum. It is remarkable that relatively good films of small thickness (60 nm) can be fabricated using this method.