Date of Graduation

12-2016

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Microelectronics-Photonics (MS)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Graduate School

Advisor

Ryan Tian

Committee Member

Joseph Herzog

Second Committee Member

Shui-Qing Yu

Third Committee Member

Rick Wise

Abstract

As is commonly known, the world is full of technological wonders, where a multitude of electronic devices and instruments continuously help push the boundaries of scientific knowledge and discovery. These new devices and instruments of science must be utilized at peak efficiency in order to benefit humanity with the most advanced scientific knowledge. In order to attain this level of efficiency, the materials which make up these electronics, or possibly more important, the fundamental characteristics of these materials, must be fully understood. The following research attempted to uncover the properties and characteristics of a selected family of materials. Herein, zinc oxide (ZnO) nanomaterials were investigated and subjected to various, systematical tests, with the aim of discovering new and useful properties. The various nanostructures were grown on a quartz substrate, between a pair of gold electrodes, and subjected to an electrical bias which produced a measurable photocurrent under sufficient lighting conditions. This design formed a novel photodetector device, which, when combined with a simple solar cell and a methodical set of experimental trials, allowed several unique phenomena to be studied. Under various conditions, the device photocurrent as a function of applied voltage, as well as transmitted light, were measured and compared between devices of different ZnO morphologies. Zinc oxide is an absorber of ultraviolet (UV) light. UV absorbing materials and devices have uses in solar cells, long range communications, and astronomical observational equipment, hence, a better understanding of zinc oxide nanostructures and their properties can lead to more efficient utilization of UV light, improved solar cell technology, and a better understanding of the basic science in photon-to-electricity conversion.