MRS Bulletin

Technical Feature

Technical Feature

Applications and Processing of Transparent Conducting Oxides

Brian G. Lewis and David C. Paine

The first report of a transparent conducting oxide (TCO) was published in 1907, when Badeker reported that thin films of Cd metal deposited in a glow discharge chamber could be oxidized to become transparent while remaining electrically conducting. Since then, the commercial value of these thin films has been recognized, and the list of potential TCO materials has expanded to include, for example, Al-doped ZnO, GdInOx, SnO2, F-doped In2O3, and many others. Since the 1960s, the most widely used TCO for optoelectronic device applications has been tin-doped indium oxide (ITO). At present, and likely well into the future, this material offers the best available performance in terms of conductivity and transmissivity, combined with excellent environmental stability, reproducibility, and good surface morphology. The use of other TCOs in large quantities is application-specific. For example, tin oxide is now widely used in architectural glass applications.