Quasi-metallic behavior of ZnO grown by atomic layer deposition : The role of hydrogen

  • Autor:

    Beh, H. / Hiller, D. / Bruns, M. / Welle, A. / Becker, H. W. / Berghoff, B. / Sürgers, C. / Merz, R. / Zacharias, M. (2017) 

  • Quelle:

    Journal of applied physics, 2017, 122, 2, 025306,  DOI: 10.1063/1.4994175

  • Datum: Juli 2017


Zinc oxide (ZnO) fabricated by atomic layer deposition (ALD) is intrinsically well-conductive (∼5 mΩ cm), in contrast to the single-crystalline bulk material or sputtered ZnO thin films. There are generally three groups of candidates for the intrinsic n-type conductivity: intrinsic point defects, elemental impurities other than hydrogen, and incorporated hydrogen itself. In this study, we assess the different candidates concerning their impact on conductivity. In the presence of free electron densities of up to 5 × 1019 cm−3, impurities other than hydrogen are ruled out due to their ultra-low concentrations in the ppm range. Intrinsic point defects are also considered unlikely since the evolution of conductivity with deposition temperature is not reproduced in the Zn/O ratio as measured by Rutherford backscattering spectrometry. Hence, the most promising candidate is hydrogen with a concentration of ∼1 at. %, i.e., more than sufficient to account for the free electron density. In addition, we find a correlation between the deposition-temperature dependence of the carrier concentration and the hydrogen concentration. The formation energy of the conductive, hydrogen-related state is determined to be ∼40 meV. Hall measurements down to liquid helium temperatures revealed that the electron densities are constant over the whole temperature range. This constitutes a quasi-metallic behavior of ALD-ZnO for deposition temperatures of ≥150 °C. We propose that the very high concentration of hydrogen-induced donor states causes a vanishing ionization energy so that the donor band merges energetically with the ZnO conduction band. This model is supported by ultraviolet photoelectron spectroscopy measurements.