Semiconducting Transition Metal Oxides

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Open shell transition metal oxides are usually described as Mott or charge transfer insulators, which are often viewed as being disparate from semiconductors. Based on the premise that the presence of a correlated gap and semiconductivity are not mutually exclusive, this work reviews electronic structure calculations on the binary 3D oxides, so to distill trends and design principles for semiconducting transition metal oxides. This class of materials possesses the potential for discovery, design, and development of novel functional semiconducting compounds, e.g. for energy applications. In order to place the 3D orbitals and the sp bands into an integrated picture, band structure calculations should treat both contributions on the same footing and, at the same time, account fully for electron correlation in the 3D shell. Fundamentally, this is a rather daunting task for electronic structure calculations, but quasi-particle energy calculations in GW approximation offer a viable approach for band structure predictions in these materials. Compared to conventional semiconductors, the inherent multivalent nature of transition metal cations is more likely to cause undesirable localization of electron or hole carriers. Therefore, a quantitative prediction of the carrier self-trapping energy is essential for the assessing the semiconducting properties and to determine whether the transport mechanism is a band-like large-polaron conduction or a small-polaron hopping conduction. An overview is given for the binary 3D oxides on how the hybridization between the 3D crystal field symmetries with the O-p orbitals of the ligands affects the effective masses and the likelihood of electron and hole self-trapping, identifying those situations where small masses and band-like conduction are more likely to be expected. The review concludes with an illustration of the implications of the increased electronic complexity of transition metal cations on the defect physics and doping, using as an example the diversity of possible atomic and magnetic configurations of the O vacancy in TiO2, and the high levels of hole doping in Co2ZnO4 due to a self-doping mechanism that originates from the multivalence of Co.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numberArticle No. 283203
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Physics Condensed Matter
Issue number28
StatePublished - 22 Jul 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 IOP Publishing Ltd.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5K00-63385


  • band structure
  • defects
  • electronic structure calculation
  • polarons
  • transition metal oxides


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