Correlating Photoconductivity with Photochromism in Oxygen-containing Rare-earth Metal Hydride Thin Films

University essay from Uppsala universitet/Materialfysik

Abstract: Scientists have recently discovered simultaneous photoconductivity and photochromism (i.e., optical switching upon light exposure) of oxygen-containing rare-earth metal hydrides (REMHO). A deep understanding of these extraordinary optical and electrical properties can open the door to advanced technological uses such as smart windows. This thesis work is to establish a correlation between the photochromism of these materials with their photoconductive response and comprehend the underlying physics behind them. The samples were grown by reactive magnetron sputtering. The dynamics of the photochromic effect were observed by recording the time-resolved relative transmittance of the films during photodarkening and bleaching using a UV-vis spectrometer. The samples were characterized electrically by employing the two-point probe resistance measurement. The depth profiles of the concentration of chemical elements were extracted from Ion Beam Analysis. A systematic study was performed to see how the photoconductive and photochromic responses of the REMHO thin films depend on the wavelength and intensity of the illuminating light as well as the chemical composition of the films. Both effects showed i) higher response for shorter wavelength, ii) a cut-off near a similar wavelength, iii) saturation near UV region, and iv) similar relaxation time but with different kinetics. Multiple measurements performed on the same sample showed that the previous measurement affects the next measurement indicating a memory effect. Finally, the photoconductive response showed an increase with increasing oxygen concentration.

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