Introduction of TiO<inf>2</inf> in CuI for Its Improved Performance as a p-Type Transparent Conductor

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Journal Article
ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces, 2019, 11 (27), pp. 24254 - 24263
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© 2019 American Chemical Society. The challenges of making high-performance, low-temperature processed, p-type transparent conductors (TCs) have been the main bottleneck for the development of flexible transparent electronics. Though a few p-type transparent conducting oxides (TCOs) have shown promising results, they need high processing temperature to achieve the required conductivity which makes them unsuitable for organic and flexible electronic applications. Copper iodide is a wide band gap p-type semiconductor that can be heavily doped at low temperature (<100 °C) to achieve conductivity comparable or higher than many of the well-established p-type TCOs. However, as-processed CuI loses its transparency and conductivity with time in an ambient condition which makes them unsuitable for long-term applications. Herein, we propose CuI-TiO2 composite thin films as a replacement of pure CuI. We show that the introduction of TiO2 in CuI makes it more stable in ambient conditions while also improving its conductivity and transparency. A detailed comparative analysis between CuI and CuI-TiO2 composite thin films has been performed to understand the reasons for improved conductivity, transparency, and stability of CuI-TiO2 samples in comparison to pure CuI samples. The enhanced conductivity in CuI-TiO2 stems from the highly conductive space-charge layer formation at the CuI-TiO2 interface, whereas the improved transparency is due to reduced CuI grain growth mobility in the presence of TiO2. The improved stability of CuI-TiO2 in comparison to pure CuI is a result of inhibited recrystallization and grain growth, reduced loss of iodine, and limited oxidation of the CuI phase in the presence of TiO2. For optimized fraction of TiO2, an average transparency of ∼78% (in 450-800 nm region) and a resistivity of 14 mω·cm are achieved, while maintaining a relatively high mobility of ∼3.5 cm2 V-1 s-1 with hole concentration reaching as high as 1.3 × 1020 cm-3. Most importantly, this work opens up the possibility to design a new range of p-type transparent conducting materials using the CuI/insulator composite system such as CuI/SiO2, CuI/Al2O3, CuI/SiNx, and so forth.
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