Date of Award

May 2017

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

Nidal Abu-Zahra

Committee Members

Steve Hardcastle, Junjie Niu


Sol-Gel, Spin Coating, ZNO



Transparent conductive oxides are gaining an increasingly important role in optoelectronic devices such as solar cells. Doped zinc oxide is a candidate as a low cost and nontoxic alternative to tin doped indium oxide. Lab results have shown that both n-type and p-type zinc oxide can be created on a small scale. This can allow zinc oxide to be used as either an electrode as well as a buffer layer to increase efficiency and protect the active layer in solar cells.

Sol-gel synthesis is emerging as a low temperature, low cost, and resource efficient alternative to producing transparent conducting oxides such as zinc oxide. For sol-gel derived zinc oxide thin films to reach their potential, research in this topic must continue to optimize the known processing parameters and expand to new parameters to tighten control and create novel processing techniques that improve performance.

The processing parameters of drying and annealing temperatures as well as cooling rate were analyzed to see their effect on the structure of the prepared zinc oxide thin films. There were also preliminary tests done to modify the sol-gel process to include silver as a dopant to produce a p-type thin film. The results from this work show that the pre- and post- heating temperatures as well as the cooling rate all play their own unique role in the crystallization of the film. Results from silver doping show that more work needs to be done to create a sol-gel derived p-type zinc oxide thin film.