Spin-coated oxides; preparation and characterisation

(supervisor: Chris Finlayson)

Nature of project: experimental, experimental

Available to full-time physicists or joint students.

Project description and methodology

Metal oxides, such as TiO2 and ZnO, have a particularly important application in some thin-film optoelectronics and solar cells, due to their favourable electronic and crystalline properties.[1-3]

In this project, students will prepare oxide thin-films from a precursor recipe, via the method of "spin-coating"[4]; a convenient way of processing uniform lamina layers (50-200 nm) of a material onto substrates. Following sintering, the as-deposited films will be characterized by methods such as X-ray diffraction (XRD) and ellipsometry, in order to determine the crystalline structure, film composition, and uniformity/roughness.

A successful project will develop beyond the above in one/some of the following directions:
Systematic optimisation of experimental parameters, as described above.

When considering where to take your project, please bear in mind the time available. It is preferable to do fewer things well than to try many and not get conclusive results on any of them. However, sometimes it is useful to have a couple of strands of investigation in parallel to work on in case delays occur.

Additional scope or challenge if taken as a Year-4 project: As an idea of a potential follow-on study for Y4 students; layers of suitable semiconducting materials may be spin-coated onto the oxides, in order to characterize the semiconductor-oxide interfacial photophysics.

Initial literature for students:

  1. B. O'Regan, M. Grtzel et al., Nature vol.353, 737740 (1991)
  2. H. Sun et al, Solar Energy Materials & Solar Cells, vol 95, p3450-3454 (2011)
  3. B-H. Moon, Energy Procedia, Vol. 34, p589-596 (2013)
  4. http://www.brewerscience.com/spin-coating-theory

Novelty, degree of difficulty and amount of assistance required

Students will need to be trained on a number of pieces of lab equipment and to observe basic chemical safety protocols. Appropriate assistance and training will be given. The aims of the project as set out make it suitable for an average Y3 student.

Project milestones and deliverables (including timescale)

milestoneto be completed by
Lab training and familarisationChristmas
Thin film prepend of February
Ellipsometry/XRD characterisationmid-March
Collation and analysisEaster

Students taking this project will have to submit a full risk assessment form