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The Process and Applications of Transparent Oxide Deposition

Transparent oxide deposition is a key component in manufacturing modern optoelectronic devices, such as touch screens, photovoltaics, and smart windows. Thin-film transparent oxides are important building blocks in these devices for their low-temperature processing, flexibility, and exceptional electrical performance. And with the help of our HEX series, transparent oxide deposition is within your organisation’s reach. 

Fundamentals of Transparent Oxide Deposition 

Several deposition processes for transparent oxides have arisen in recent decades, but what exactly is transparent oxide deposition, and what are its uses? 

What Is Transparent Oxide Deposition?

Transparent oxide deposition is the process of creating transparent conductive oxides (TCOs) [1] by depositing thin oxide films onto target materials. TCOs are electrically conductive materials with low light absorption, making them transparent. Precise, reliable deposition is necessary to fabricate TCOs for use within optoelectronic cells.

The Role of Transparent Oxides in Technology

Transparent oxides have functional uses across a wide range of technologies, namely optoelectronic devices [2], such as:

      • LEDs

      • Displays

      • Lasers

      • Optical fibres

    Societally, transparent oxides play a significant role in producing energy-efficient devices like solar cells. These cells use a renewable energy source in place of non-renewable natural gas, reducing carbon emissions. 

    Advantages of Using PVD for Transparent Oxide Deposition 

    While there are several thin film oxide deposition techniques, transparent oxides prepared with physical vapour deposition (PVD) techniques lead to high electron mobility [3] and low resistivity, giving the TCOs the ideal properties for sensitive optoelectronic applications like heterojunction solar cells.

    Using the HEX series to conduct this advanced oxide film deposition process allows for ultimate precision and versatility for other types of PVD applications. 

    The Science Behind Transparent Oxides 

    Why are transparent oxides so pivotal within modern optoelectronic applications? They offer the ideal physical properties for energy-efficient electrical technologies.

    Properties of Transparent Oxides

    Transparent oxides have unique optical and electrical properties that make them indispensable within optoelectronics. They showcase efficient electrical performance, low-temperature processing, and device flexibility [4].

    Additionally, transparent oxide coating technologies reflect infrared and near-infrared wavelengths, have high optical transmission at visible wavelengths, and showcase electrical conductivity similar to that of metals. As a result, they can be used in place of conductive metals in various applications. 

    Selecting Materials for Transparent Oxide Deposition 

    Three main oxides stand out as appropriate candidates for oxide deposition:

        • Zinc oxide

        • Tin oxide

        • Copper aluminium oxide

      These materials are highly conductive, transparent, and durable and respond well to various transparent coating deposition methods. 

      Researchers are still uncovering other materials that could offer even better conductivity. For instance, researchers have recently found that the optimised Sn-doped In2O3 (ITO) has ideal properties for TCO materials because of its high transmittance, electrical conductivity, bandgap, and mobility. 

      Some materials are also more suitable for certain applications. For example, ITO is an ideal material for transparent oxide deposition for use within silicon heterojunction solar cells. 

      The Transparent Oxide Deposition Process With the HEX Series  

      HEX

      At Korvus Technology, we’re transforming the accessibility of thin-film deposition within manufacturing, one HEX series at a time. Our systems use physical vapour deposition to bring complex manufacturing processes like transparent oxide deposition to your lab. 

      Overview of the Deposition Process

      The transparent oxide deposition process involves depositing thin films of metal oxides onto target materials, creating transparent oxides good for optoelectronics. The HEX series of thin deposition systems facilitates the creation of high-quality transparent oxides through physical vapour deposition

      At a basic level, this process deposits a transparent conductive oxide onto a surface, creating a clear, electronically conductive coating. It uses low-temperature evaporation to stabilise the organic materials within the deposition process. The same HEX series technology can produce thin film transistors and other types of coatings.

      Innovations in Transparent Oxide Deposition

      HEX

      Korvus Technology’s HEX series offers innovative solutions for precise and targeted transparent oxide deposition, expanding the functional uses of this technology. Through the HEX series, your organisation can completely customise the oxide layer deposition for transparency control.

      The HEX series’ deposition process is also highly efficient, streamlining the production of transparent conductive oxides while ensuring the highest-quality results. 

      Real-World Applications of Transparent Oxide Deposition  

      Transparent conductive oxides have numerous modern applications. Researchers continue to develop new uses for these clear, conductive, and flexible materials. 

      Enhancing Solar Cells

      First, transparent oxide deposition is crucial to the production of efficient and optimised solar cells. The coatings on thin film solar cells must be transparent like glass while being highly conductive like metal. TCOs offer the best of both worlds, with properties that allow light to enter the cell, convert that light into energy, and collect the converted energy for output. 

      Image Source 

      Similarly, TCOs are pivotal in the technology behind “smart windows,” [5] which regulate the solar flux entering a car or building by transitioning from clear to frosted depending on the season and desired interior temperature. 

      Image Source

      Display Technologies

      TCOs are widely used within modern flat-panel displays. The transparency of the coating makes for a near-invisible conductive overlay ideal for crisp, high-definition electronic displays.

      We will also see transparent oxide deposition play a vital role in the development of next-generation smart devices and advanced flexible optoelectronics [6]. Many touch screens already use TCOs to create reactive yet high-resolution displays. 

      Transparent Oxide Deposition and Future Innovations 

      Transparent oxide deposition is the future of optoelectronic manufacturing, and Korvus Technology is paving the way with the high-quality, accessible, user-friendly HEX series. These systems use advanced technology to facilitate high-quality transparent oxide deposition through reliable PVD methods. Even better, they are usable within a range of industries, fostering important innovations in many fields. 

      Explore our Benchtop PVD system from Korvus Technology and learn how this system can seamlessly integrate into your research and manufacturing processes. Korvus Technology is ready to support your projects and help you select the right system for your needs. Get in touch today by filling out our contact form

      References

      [1] Materion. Transparent conductive oxide films. https://materion.com/-/media/files/advanced-materials-group/me/technicalpapers/transparentconductiveoxidethinfilms.pdf, Accessed on 14 February 2024.

      [2] Ohta, Hiromichi, and Hideo Hosono. (2004). Transparent oxide optoelectronicsMaterialsToday 7, 6. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1369-7021(04)00288-3

      [3] Macco, B., Wu, Y., Vanhemel, D., et al. (2014). High mobility In2O3:H transparent conductive oxides prepared by atomic layer deposition and solid phase crystallizationRapid research Letters 8, 70. https://doi.org/10.1002/pssr.201409426

      [4] Natu, Krutika, Laad, Meena, et al. (2023). Transparent and flexible zinc oxide-based thin-film diodes and thin-film transistors: A reviewJournal of Applied Physics134, 19. https://doi.org/10.1063/5.0169308

      [5] K Gesheva et al. (2016). Technologies for deposition of transition metal oxide thin films: application as functional layers in “Smart windows” and photocatalytic systemsJournal of Physics: Conference Series. doi:10.1088/1742-6596/682/1/012011

      [6] Ma, CH., Chen, EL., Lai, YH. et al. (2020). Flexible transparent heteroepitaxial conducting oxide with mobility exceeding 100 cm2 V−1 s−1 at room temperatureNPG Asia Mater 12, 70. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41427-020-00251-2

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