The electrical properties of RF-sputtered Al-doped ZnO are often spatially inhomogeneous and strongly dependent on deposition parameters. In this work, we study the mechanisms that limit the minimum resistivity achievable under different deposition regimes. In a low- and intermediate-pressure regime, we find a generalized dependence of the electrical properties, grain size, texture, and Al content on compressive stress, regardless of sputtering pressure or position on the substrate. In a high-pressure regime, a porous microstructure limits the achievable resistivity and causes it to increase over time as well. The primary cause of inhomogeneity in the electrical properties is identified as energetic particle bombardment. Inhomogeneity in oxygen content is also observed, but its effect on the electrical properties is small and limited to the carrier mobility.
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Crovetto, A., Ottsen, T. S., Stamate, E., Kjær, D., Schou, J., & Hansen, O. (2016). On performance limitations and property correlations of Al-doped ZnO deposited by radio-frequency sputtering: Paper. Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics, 49(29), . https://doi.org/10.1088/0022-3727/49/29/295101