Transparent Conducting Oxides (TCOs)

Our Transparent Conducting Oxides (TCOs) can be used to support many different applications:

  • Photovoltaics
  • Flat panel displays
  • Mobile phones
  • Flexible applications (Low temperature process)

Plasma Quest’s HiTUS technology enables world leading transparent conducting oxide (TCO) properties deposited at low temperature, enabling deposition on to flexible substrates.

One of the most widely used TCOs is Indium Tin Oxide (ITO). ITO is almost exclusively now used as a transparent electrode for a vast range of display and lighting devices. Using PQL’s HiTUS technology we can deposit ITO using no substrate heating with an average visible transmission of 90 % and a specific resistivity of less than 4.0 x 10-4 Ωcm. The absence of any substrate heating allows our ITO to be used for both rigid and flexible applications. However, indium is reportedly in short supply which is driving up the cost of the raw material and intensifying the search for alternative non-indium based TCOs. At Plasma Quest Limited we have many years of experience in depositing a range of TCO materials including ITO and Aluminium-doped Zinc Oxide (AZO), one of the most promising alternatives to ITO for transparent electrode applications.

Zinc Oxide (ZnO) and Indium doped Zinc Oxide (IZO) are other TCO materials that we have deposited for thin film transistor (TFT) applications. By varying the partial pressure of oxygen, the conductivity of HiTUS deposited ZnO can be controlled. Conducting ZnO has been used effectively to ensure a high quality Ohmic contact between the top contacts and the channel layer. By increasing the oxygen partial pressure, semiconducting ZnO can be deposited and has been successfully used for the channel layer in TFTs grown on glass. Using amorphous IZO as the channel layer, TFTs with improved field effect motilities and switching ratios of 20 cm2V-1s-1 and 106 respectively have been fabricated onto silicon wafers. These improvements in the transistors’ characteristics have been linked to the absence of grain boundaries in the IZO material. More detailed information on the use of HiTUS deposited ZnO and IZO for TFT applications can be found in this publication written in collaboration with Cambridge University.

The flexibility and control that the HiTUS system provides for thin film deposition enables us to vary parameters such as transmission, band gap, resistance, stress, surface roughness, structure, carrier concentration and mobility in order to tailor materials to specific needs. Using remotely generated plasma, PQL can deposit any of the above materials onto temperature sensitive plastic substrates making them suitable for a wide range of flexible electronics applications.