Transparent conductive oxides (TCO) comprise a class of materials that exhibit unique combination of high transparency in the visible region along with high electrical conductivity. TCOs play an important role as transparent electrodes for optoelectronic devices such as solar cell panels, liquid crystal displays, transparent heat mirrors and organic light emitting devices (OLED). The most commonly used transparent electrodes in optoelectronic applications is indium tin oxide (ITO) due to its low resistivity (~ 10−4 Ω-cm) and high transmittance (~ 80 %). However, the limited supply of indium and the growing demand for ITO make the resulting fabrication costs prohibitive for future industry. Thus, cost factors have promoted the search for inexpensive materials with good electric-optical properties.
The object of this work is to study the structure-property-processing relationship and optimize a suitable transparent electrode with the intent to optimize them for flexible optoelectronics applications. The work focuses on improved processing of the mixed oxide (indium gallium zinc oxide, IGZO) thin films for superior optical and electrical properties. The study focuses on two different methods of post-deposition annealing-microwave and conventional. The microwave annealing was seen to have the dual advantage of reduced time and lower temperature, as compared to conventional annealing. Another work focuses on an indium free transparent composite electrode (TCE) where a very thin metal layer is inserted between the two TCO layers. A novel Nb2O5/Ag/Nb2O5 multilayered structure can exhibit better electrical and optical properties than a single layered TCO thin film. The focus for low cost alternative leads to a TiO2/metal/TiO2 based TCE. A systematic study was done to understand the effect of metal thickness and substituting different metals (Ag, Cu or Au) on the opto-electrical properties of the TCEs. The TiO2/Ag/TiO2 with mid Ag thickness 9.5 nm has been optimized to have a sheet resistance of 5.7 Ohm/sq. average optical transmittance of 90 % at 550 nm and figure of merit with 61.4 ×10-3 Ω-1. The TCEs showed improved optical and electrical properties when annealed in forming gas and vacuum. These dielectric/metal/dielectric multilayer TCEs have lower total thickness and are more efficient than a single-layer ITO film.