Publication Date


Document Type


Committee Members

Hong Huang (Committee Chair), Sharmila Mukhopadhyay (Committee Member), Ioana Pavel (Committee Member)

Degree Name

Master of Science in Engineering (MSEgr)


Progress in commercializing renewable energy technologies is being advanced by developments in Zinc Oxide material science. The photovoltaic cell, for example, generates electricity by receiving solar energy into the cell, generating electrons, and simultaneously transporting electrical charge out of the cell. Metals are capable of removing electrical charge but block transmission of sunshine. Glass and plastics are capable of transmitting sunshine but block the removal of electrical charge. Therefore an exterior layer that is both optically transparent and electrically conductive is desirable. Transparent conductive oxides (TCOs) are the ideal material for such applications since they are capable of both functions. In addition, the unique opto-electronic properties of TCOs make them suitable for many other applications such as dye sensitized solar cells and sensor devices.

Zinc oxide is a non-toxic and inexpensive TCO material in comparison with the state-of-the-art tin-doped indium oxide (ITO). Therefore, optimizing the fabrication of high-quality zinc oxide thin films at low cost plays a significant role in the advancement of solar technology commercialization. The sol-gel process has advantages over other techniques in terms of low-cost, feasible mass production. In this work, key variables affecting zinc oxide sol-gel processing were investigated. Resulting films were characterized for optical transparency by UV-VIS spectrophotometry. Chemical reaction mechanisms within the sol-gel process and Zinc Oxide film crystalline properties were analyzed using Raman spectroscopy. Key variables affecting final film quality were explored.

Page Count


Department or Program

Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering

Year Degree Awarded