Date of Award

Spring 2011

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Electrical/Computer Engineering

Committee Director

Helmut Baumgart

Committee Member

Gon Namkoong

Committee Member

Ravindra Joshi

Committee Member

Zhili Hao


Zinc oxide (ZnO) is a direct, wide bandgap semiconductor material. It is thermodynamically stable in the wurtzite structure at ambient temperature conditions. ZnO has very interesting optical and electrical properties and is a suitable candidate for numerous optoelectronic applications such as solar cells, LEDs and UV-photodetectors. ZnO is a naturally n-type semiconductor. Due to the lack of reproducible p-type ZnO, achieving good homojunction ZnO-based photodiodes such as UV-photodetectors remains a challenge. Meanwhile, heterojunction structures of ZnO with p-type substrates such as SiC, GaN, NiO, AlGaN, Si etc. are used; however, those heterojunction diodes suffer from low efficiencies. ZnO is an n-type material with numerous intrinsic defect levels responsible for the electrical and optical behaviors. Presently, there is no clear consensus about the origin of those defects.

In this work, ZnO was synthesized by atomic layer deposition (ALD). ALD is a novel deposition technique suitable for nanotechnology engineering that provides unique features such as precise control of ZnO thin film with atomic resolution, high uniformity, good conformity and high aspect ratio. Using this novel deposition technique, the ALD ZnO deposition process was developed and optimized using diethyl zinc as the precursor for zinc and water vapor as the oxygen source. In order to optimize the film quality for use in electronic applications, the physical, mechanical and electrical properties were investigated. The structural and mechanical properties of the ALD ZnO thin films were investigated by X-ray diffraction (XRD), transmission electron microscopy (TEM), atomic force microscopy (AFM), scanning electron microscopy (SEM), spectroscopic Ellipsometry, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), Raman spectroscopy, UV-VIS absorption and nanoindentation. The electrical characterizations were performed using C-V, I-V, DLTS, Hall Effect, and four-point probe.

The intrinsic defects responsible for the electrical and optical properties of the ALD ZnO films were analyzed and identified. ALD ZnO based electronic devices were fabricated, optimized and their electrical characteristics measured. The photocurrent characteristics of ALD ZnO were also optimized, and high efficiency UV-photodetectors were achieved.