The Role of Cation Coordination in the Electrical and Optical Properties of Amorphous Transparent Conducting Oxides

Sebastian Husein, Julia Medvedeva, John Perkins, Mariana Bertoni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus Citations


Amorphous oxide semiconductor materials have demonstrated numerous advantages without compromise of electrical properties as compared to their crystalline counterparts, yet understanding of the fundamental principles allowing this has remained elusive. To study the origins of enhanced optoelectronic properties, we apply high-throughput, combinatorial sputtering, structural and spectral mapping, and computationally intensive ab initio molecular dynamics simulations with density functional theory to a ternary, post-transition metal oxide system, namely, zinc tin oxide. The deposited thin films exhibit a high figure of merit, achieving carrier densities in the range of 1019 to 1020 cm–3 and carrier mobilities up to 35 cm2/Vs. These results highlight the role of local distortions and cation coordination in determining the microscopic origins of carrier generation and transport. In particular, we identify the strong likelihood of Sn undercoordination in both Zn-poor and Zn-rich phases leading to the high carrier concentrations observed. This not only diverges from the still widespread historical indictment of oxygen vacancies controlling carrier population in crystalline oxides but also provides a comprehensive framework to describe the unique structure–property relationships using specific structural and electronic descriptors in disordered phase materials.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)6444-6455
Number of pages12
JournalChemistry of Materials
Issue number15
StatePublished - 2020

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5K00-78095


  • electrical properties
  • optoelectronic properties
  • semiconductor materials
  • thin films


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