Conductive ZnO:Zn Composites for High-Rate Sputtering Deposition of ZnO Thin Films
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We report an electrically conductive composite prepared by sintering ZnO and metallic Zn powders. Microstructure analysis combined with electrical conductivity studies indicated that when the proportion of metallic Zn reached a threshold (∼20 wt.%), a metal matrix was formed in accordance with percolation theory. This composite has potential as a sputtering target for deposition of high-quality ZnO. Use of the ZnO:Zn composite completely eliminates target poisoning effects in reactive sputtering of the metal, and enables deposition of thin ZnO films at rates much higher than those obtained by sputtering of pure ZnO ceramic targets. The optical transmittance of the ZnO films prepared by use of this composite is comparable with that of films produced by radio frequency sputtering of pure ZnO ceramic targets. The sputtering characteristics of the conductive ZnO:Zn composite target are reported, and possible mechanisms of the high rate of deposition are also discussed.
KeywordsThin Film sputter zinc oxide composite
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The authors are grateful for support from FCT Portugal, grant nos PTDC/CTM-CER/121440/2010 and PEst-C/EME/UI0481/2013. The contents of this paper are also based on work supported by the National Science Foundation/EPSCoR, grant no. 0903804, and by the State of South Dakota. This research was partly supported by National Science Foundation grant nos 1248454 and 1248970, and a South Dakota BOR PIF Grant.
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