Synthesis and Characterization of (Sn,Zn)O Alloys

Andre Bikowski, Aaron Holder, Haowei Peng, Sebastian Siol, Andrew Norman, Stephan Lany, Andriy Zakutayev

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus Citations


SnO exhibits electrical properties that render it promising for solar energy conversion applications, but it also has a strongly indirect band gap. Recent theoretical calculations predict that this disadvantage can be mitigated by isovalent alloying with other group II oxides, such as ZnO. Here, we have synthesized new metastable isovalent (Sn,Zn)O alloy thin films by combinatorial reactive co-sputtering and characterized their structural, optical, and electrical properties. The alloying of ZnO into SnO leads to a change of the valence state of the tin from Sn0 via Sn2+ to Sn4+, which can be counteracted by reducing the oxygen partial pressure during the deposition. The optical characterization of the smooth <10 at. % Sn1-xZnxO thin films showed an increase in the absorption coefficient in the range from 1 eV to 2 eV, which is consistent with the theoretical predictions for the isovalent alloying. However, the experimentally observed alloying effect may be convoluted with the effect of local variations of the Sn oxidation state. This effect would have to be minimized to improve the (Sn,Zn)O optical and electrical properties for their use as absorbers in solar energy conversion applications.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)7765-7772
Number of pages8
JournalChemistry of Materials
Issue number21
StatePublished - 8 Nov 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 American Chemical Society.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5K00-66842


  • characterization
  • synthesis
  • thin films


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