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Document Type

Thesis - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School

Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

First Advisor

Qi Hua Fan


Transparent conductive oxides used in solar cells such as indium tin oxide are relatively expensive. Zinc oxide may be suitable alternative as it is inexpensive, nontoxic, and abundant with properties similar to indium tin oxide. High quality zinc oxide films are commonly prepared by high cost vacuum techniques. Solution processed solgels offer a simple, easy and low cost deposition technique for ZnO. However, ZnO films produced by these techniques have poor electrical properties. Plasma treatment has been used to improve these properties. However, these films still require vacuum deposition which results in higher manufacturing costs. The objective of this research was to determine if plasma treatment can enhance the conductivity of solution based zinc oxide thin films with transparency greater than 85% and resistivity less than 0.099 Ωcm. Pure zinc oxide films have high resistivity due to a low carrier concentration which can be increased by oxygen and/or zinc non‐stoichiometry, or doping with impurities. In this work, zinc oxide films were deposited by the sol-gel method, and treated with oxygen, hydrogen and nitrogen plasmas. Oxygen plasma treatment produced highly crystalline films with transmittance above 85% and a 30% reduction in resistivity. Hydrogen plasma treatment increased the electrical conductivity by 98% but decreased transmittance by xii 10%. This is the first report of improvement of conductivity of sol-gel zinc oxide film using oxygen and hydrogen plasma treatment.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Zinc oxide thin films
Electric conductivity
Optoelectronic devices
Plasma (Ionized gases)


Includes bibliographical references (pages 59-62)



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University



Rights Statement

In Copyright