Zinc aluminate spinel impurity phase in Al doped ZnO ceramic target and pulsed laser ablated films: Curse or blessing?

Arindam Mallick, Arindam Kole, Tushar Ghosh, Partha Chaudhuri, Durga Basak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Al doped ZnO films (AZO) have been grown by pulsed laser deposition (PLD) technique using ceramic targets sintered at different temperatures in the range 800-1400°C. The effect of target sintering temperature on the structural, optical and electrical properties of the AZO films has been investigated. The X-ray diffraction (XRD) patterns show that besides the major hexagonal wurtzite phase of ZnO, the zinc aluminate (ZnAl2O4) spinel impurity phase is present predominantly in the targets sintered at 900°C onwards. The XRD peak intensity of the spinel phase increases as the sintering temperature increases. Although, no such impurity has been primarily appeared in the XRD pattern of the films deposited from these targets, the presence of a probable spinel phase has been sensed by the X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) measurements. All the films show more than 90% transparency in the region 500-1400nm. The electrical resistance of the target pellets also decreases with an increase in the sintering temperature up to 1100°C and then increases. Similarly, the carrier concentration increases and the resistivity decreases with the sintering temperature attaining the values of 6.36×1020cm-3 and 6.38×10-4Ωcm respectively for the films ablated from the targets sintered at temperatures 1000°C (AZO1000) and 1100°C (AZO1100) beyond which both the values deteriorate. An increase in the carrier concentration value is assigned to the modification of the grain boundaries by the spinel phase. Vacuum annealing of AZO1000 film at 350°C results in a further increase in the carrier concentration to a value of 1×1021cm-3. This film has been applied as a transparent electrode without texturing for a-Si:H solar cell which shows a conversion efficiency of ~3.93%. Our study for the first time shows that the presence of a ZnAl2O4 phase to a certain extent in AZO film rather helps to achieve higher carrier concentration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)80-87
Number of pages8
JournalSolar Energy
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Al doped ZnO
  • Impurity phase
  • Pulsed laser deposition
  • Transparent electrode

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • General Materials Science


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