Zinc Oxide - Potential Applications - Electronics


ZnO has wide direct band gap (3.37 eV or 375 nm at room temperature). Therefore, its most common potential applications are in laser diodes and light emitting diodes (LEDs). Some optoelectronic applications of ZnO overlap with that of GaN, which has a similar bandgap (~3.4 eV at room temperature). Compared to GaN, ZnO has a larger exciton binding energy (~60 meV, 2.4 times of the room-temperature thermal energy), which results in bright room-temperature emission from ZnO. ZnO can be combined with GaN for LED-applications. For instance as TCO layer and ZnO nanostructures provide better light outcoupling. Other properties of ZnO favorable for electronic applications include its stability to high-energy radiation and to wet chemical etching. Radiation resistance makes ZnO a suitable candidate for space applications. ZnO is the most promising candidate in the field of random lasers to produce an electronically pumped UV laser source.

The pointed tips of ZnO nanorods result in a strong enhancement of an electric field. Therefore, they can be used as field emitters.

Aluminium-doped ZnO layers are used as a transparent electrodes. The constituents Zn and Al are much cheaper and less toxic compared to the generally used indium tin oxide (ITO). One application which has begun to be commercially available is the use of ZnO as the front contact for solar cells or of liquid crystal displays.

Transparent thin-film transistors (TTFT) can be produced with ZnO. As field-effect transistors, they even may not need a p–n junction, thus avoiding the p-type doping problem of ZnO. Some of the field-effect transistors even use ZnO nanorods as conducting channels.

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