Nanophase semiconductors are of interest for their unique, size-tunable solar spectral absorption characteristics as well as their potential to contribute to the improved energy conversion efficiency of photovoltaics (PV). Embedding these nanoparticles within electrically active transparent conductive oxides (TCO) can also provide an opportunity for enhanced, long-range carrier transport. However, differences in the atomic and electronic structure, dielectric behavior, and chemistry between the matrix and semiconductor phases highlight the influence of interfacial effects on the optical absorption properties of the composite. In this work, nanocomposites of Ge:indium tin oxide (Ge:ITO) and Ge:ZnO were fabricated with sequential RF-magnetron sputtering and annealed at temperatures from 310 to 550°C to investigate the impact of matrix identity on this interface and its contribution to nanostructure-mediated optical absorption. Transmission electron microscopy showed a decrease in Ge nanocrystal size relative to the initial semiconductor domain size in both matrices that was correlated with an increase in absorption onset energy after annealing. The effect was particularly pronounced in Ge:ITO composites in which Raman spectroscopy indicated the presence of germanium oxide at the semiconductorITO interface. These results support the primary contribution of carrier confinement in the Ge nanophase to the shifts in absorption onset energies observed.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Materials Science(all)
- Mechanics of Materials
- Mechanical Engineering
- Electrical and Electronic Engineering