Andrew B. Smith and Michael McMaster, students of Physics and Astronomy, presented a poster at the Material Research Society Conference in Boston the week of November 28, 2011.
The poster Andrew and Michael presented involves research being done in the Department of Physics and Astronomy in Dr. Tom Oder’s Wide Band Gap Semiconductor Laboratory, which currently focuses on optimizing the production of smooth, very high purity Zinc Oxide thin films. They then dope these high quality films, that is, inject specific foreign elements into the ZnO to adjust its electronic properties. The subsequent semiconductor material can be used to make, in the case of ZnO, optoelectronic devices such as LEDs and transparent electrodes.
ZnO is an attractive semiconductor, at least concerning optoelectronic applications, because of its low cost and low toxicity compared to competing materials. The negative doping of ZnO is well-established in industry, but the essential next step for ZnO’s advancement as a competitive semiconductor is to unlock the key to positive doping, which has so far proven to be a real challenge for researchers including ourselves. Solving this problem would open the way for many new and more efficient applications and devices.
Travel funds for the trip were provided by the College of STEM and the Office of the Provost.