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Semiconducting p-Type Copper Iron Oxide Thin Films Deposited by Hybrid Reactive-HiPIMS + ECWR and Reactive-HiPIMS Magnetron Plasma System

Institute of Physics, Division of Optics, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Na Slovance 2, 182 21 Prague, Czech Republic
Department of Inorganic Technology, University of Chemistry and Technology Prague, Technicka 5, 166 28 Prague, Czech Republic
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Coatings 2020, 10(3), 232;
Received: 20 January 2020 / Revised: 19 February 2020 / Accepted: 25 February 2020 / Published: 3 March 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Photocatalytic Thin Films)
A reactive high-power impulse magnetron sputtering (r-HiPIMS) and a reactive high-power impulse magnetron sputtering combined with electron cyclotron wave resonance plasma source (r-HiPIMS + ECWR) were used for the deposition of p-type CuFexOy thin films on glass with SnO2F conductive layer (FTO). The aim of this work was to deposit CuFexOy films with different atomic ratio of Cu and Fe atoms contained in the films by these two reactive sputtering methods and find deposition conditions that lead to growth of films with maximum amount of delafossite phase CuFeO2. Deposited copper iron oxide films were subjected to photoelectrochemical measurement in cathodic region in order to test the possibility of application of these films as photocathodes in solar hydrogen production. The time stability of the deposited films during photoelectrochemical measurement was evaluated. In the system r-HiPIMS + ECWR, an additional plasma source based on special modification of inductively coupled plasma, which works with an electron cyclotron wave resonance ECWR, was used for further enhancement of plasma density ne and electron temperature Te at the substrate during the reactive sputtering deposition process. A radio frequency (RF) planar probe was used for the determination of time evolution of ion flux density iionflux at the position of the substrate during the discharge pulses. Special modification of this probe to fast sweep the probe system made it possible to determine the time evolution of the tail electron temperature Te at energies around floating potential Vfl and the time evolution of ion concentration ni. This plasma diagnostics was done at particular deposition conditions in pure r-HiPIMS plasma and in r-HiPIMS with additional ECWR plasma. Generally, it was found that the obtained ion flux density iionflux and the tail electron temperature Te were systematically higher in case of r-HiPIMS + ECWR plasma than in pure r-HiPIMS during the active part of discharge pulses. Furthermore, in case of hybrid discharge plasma excitation, r-HiPIMS + ECWR plasma has also constant plasma density all the time between active discharge pulses ni ≈ 7 × 1016 m−3 and electron temperature Te ≈ 4 eV, on the contrary in pure r-HiPIMS ni and Te were negligible during the “OFF” time between active discharge pulses. CuFexOy thin films with different atomic ration of Cu/Fe were deposited at different conditions and various crystal structures were achieved after annealing in air, in argon and in vacuum. Photocurrents in cathodic region for different achieved crystal structures were observed by chopped light linear voltammetry and material stability by chronoamperometry under simulated solar light and X-ray diffraction (XRD). Optimization of depositions conditions results in the desired Cu/Fe ratio in deposited films. Optimized r-HiPIMS and r-HiPIMS + ECWR plasma deposition at 500 °C together with post deposition heat treatment at 650 °C in vacuum is essential for the formation of stable and photoactive CuFeO2 phase. View Full-Text
Keywords: photocathode film; r-HiPIMS + ECWR plasma; r-HiPIMS plasma; copper iron oxide; photocurrent photocathode film; r-HiPIMS + ECWR plasma; r-HiPIMS plasma; copper iron oxide; photocurrent
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MDPI and ACS Style

Hubička, Z.; Zlámal, M.; Olejníček, J.; Tvarog, D.; Čada, M.; Krýsa, J. Semiconducting p-Type Copper Iron Oxide Thin Films Deposited by Hybrid Reactive-HiPIMS + ECWR and Reactive-HiPIMS Magnetron Plasma System. Coatings 2020, 10, 232.

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