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Computationally Driven Design of New and Improved Transparent Conducting Oxides

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The combination of electrical conductivity and optical transparency in a single material gives transparent conducting oxides (TCOs) an important role in modern optoelectronic applications such as in solar cells, flat panel displays, and smart coatings. The most commercially successful TCO so far is tin doped indium oxide (Indium Tin Oxide – ITO ), which has become the industrial standard TCO for many optoelectronics applications; the ITO market share was 93% in 2013. Its widespread use stems from the fact that lower resistivities have been achieved in ITO than in any other TCO ; resistivities in ITO have reached as low as 7.2 × 10-5Ω cm, while retaining >90% visible transparency. In recent years, the demand for ITO has increased considerably, mainly due to the continuing replacement of cathode ray tube technology with flat screen displays. However, indium is quite a rare metal, having an abundance in the Earth’s crust of only 160 ppb by weight, compared with abundances for Zn and Sn of 79000 ppb and 2200 ppb respectively, and is often found in unstable geopolitical areas. The overwhelming demand for ITO has led to large fluctuations in the cost of indium over the past decade. There has thus been a drive in recent years to develop reduced-indium and indium-free materials which can replace ITO as the dominant industrial TCO . In this talk I will outline the strategies that we use in the Materials Theory Group to look beyond the current TCO materials, highlighting the interplay of theory and experiment.

This talk is part of the Theory of Condensed Matter series.

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