Sol-gel synthesis of ZnO transparent conductive films: The role of pH

Maria Luisa Addonizio, Antonio Aronne, Santolo Daliento, Orlando Tari, Esther Fanelli, Pasquale Pernice

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21 Citations (Scopus)


The sol-gel synthesis of undoped and B- or Al-doped ZnO thin films were critically examined with particular reference to the influence of the pH of the reaction medium on some of their specific characteristics, such as thickness, morphology, doping level and optical properties, in view of their application in the photovoltaic field. Using triethanolamine (TEA) as chelating agent, a range of basic pH from 7.66 to 8.76 was explored starting from a very concentrated zinc acetate dehydrate (ZAD) solution in ethanol, [Zn2+] = 1.0 M, and keeping the ZAD/TEA = 1. A more basic environment gives more porous films whose thickness and crystallinity are higher than those achieved at lower pH. It was found that the morphology, as well as the sheet resistance (Rs) of films, depends on both pH and doping. Increasing the pH the Rs decreases for both undoped and doped films. At a certain pH undoped films exhibit a granular microstructure and lower Rs than B- or Al-doped films which exhibit a finer texture, characterized by a lower porosity. Optical properties strongly depend on the pH as well. Increasing the pH, a noticeable blue shift effect was observed, that was attributed mainly to structural changes and to a lesser extent to the Burnstein-Moss effect. © 2014 Elsevier B.V.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)194 - 202
Number of pages9
JournalApplied Surface Science
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2014


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films

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