Multifunctional Al-doped ZnO thin films for vertically aligned liquid crystal devices

Stefan Petrov, Dimitrina Petrova, Chau Nguyen Hong Minh, Vera Marinova*, Blagovest Napoleonov, Yu Pin Lan, Vladimira Videva, Blagoy Blagoev, Velichka Strijkova, Ken Yuh Hsu, Dimitre Dimitrov, Shiuan Huei Lin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The integration of ITO-free transparent conductive layers remains a big challenge for development of next generation technologies. Here, we demonstrate the feasibility of transparent and conductive Aluminum-doped Zinc Oxide (AZO) thin films to operate simultaneously as electrode and alignment layer in Liquid Crystal (LC) device configuration. Controlling the growth process of AZO thin films by Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD) technique results of predominantly (100) crystallographic oriented AZO with very high transparency and excellent conductivity. The exceptionally low surface free energy of (100) oriented AZO, along with the topological modification following the mechanical rubbing treatment were used to elucidate the mechanism of LC molecules alignment on the surface of AZO film. The uniform vertical orientation of the nematic LC director was confirmed by polarized optical microscopy and pretilt angle measurements. The competitive electro-optical performance in terms of phase modulation, threshold and saturation voltages and contrast ratio of the assembled LC device reveals the great potential of AZO thin films as transparent electrode and alignment layer for future LC display applications with versatile functionality.

Original languageEnglish
Article number114498
JournalOptical Materials
Volume146
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2023

Keywords

  • Alignment layer
  • Aluminum-doped zinc oxide (AZO) thin films
  • Electro-optical modulation
  • ITO-Free transparent conductive layers
  • Vertically aligned liquid crystal devices

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