Recrystallization of highly-mismatched BexZn1-xO alloys: formation of a degenerate interface

Dae-Sung Park, Sepehr K. Vasheghani Farahani, Marc Walker, James J. Mudd, Haiyuan Wang, Aleksander Krupski, Einar B. Thorsteinsson, Djelloul Seghier, Chel-Jong Choi, Chang-Ju Youn, Chris F. McConville

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We investigate the effect of thermally induced phase transformations on a metastable oxide alloy film, a multiphase BexZn1–xO (BZO), grown on Al2O3(0001) substrate for annealing temperatures in the range of 600–950 °C. A pronounced structural transition is shown together with strain relaxation and atomic redistribution in the annealed films. Increasing annealing temperature initiates out-diffusion and segregation of Be and subsequent nucleation of nanoparticles at the surface, corresponding to a monotonic decrease in the lattice phonon energies and band gap energy of the films. Infrared reflectance simulations identify a highly conductive ZnO interface layer (thicknesses in the range of ≈10–29 nm for annealing temperatures ≥800 °C). The highly degenerate interface layers with temperature-independent carrier concentration and mobility significantly influence the electronic and optical properties of the BZO films. A parallel conduction model is employed to determine the carrier concentration and conductivity of the bulk and interface regions. The density-of-states-averaged effective mass of the conduction electrons for the interfaces is calculated to be in the range of 0.31m0 and 0.67m0. A conductivity as high as 1.4 × 103 S·cm–1 is attained, corresponding to the carrier concentration nInt = 2.16 × 1020 cm–3 at the interface layers, and comparable to the highest conductivities achieved in highly doped ZnO. The origin of such a nanoscale degenerate interface layer is attributed to the counter-diffusion of Be and Zn, rendering a high accumulation of Zn interstitials and a giant reduction of charge-compensating defects. These observations provide a broad understanding of the thermodynamics and phase transformations in BexZn1–xO alloys for the application of highly conductive and transparent oxide-based devices and fabrication of their alloy nanostructures.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18758-18768
JournalACS Applied Materials & Interfaces
Issue number21
Early online date7 Oct 2014
Publication statusPublished - 12 Nov 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • phase transformation
  • oxide alloys
  • BeZnO
  • degenerate interface
  • atomic diffusion
  • defect engineering


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