Resonant Ta Doping for Enhanced Mobility in Transparent Conducting SnO2

Transparent conducting oxides (TCOs) are ubiquitous in modern consumer electronics. SnO2 is an earth abundant, cheaper alternative to In2O3 as a TCO however, its performance in terms of electrical properties lags behind that of In2O3. Based on the recent discovery of mobility and conductivity enhancements in In2O3 from resonant dopants, we use a combination of state-of-the-art hybrid density functional theory calculations, high resolution photoelectron spectroscopy and semiconductor statistics modelling to understand what the optimal dopant is to maximise performance of SnO2-based TCOs. We demonstrate that Ta is the optimal dopant for high performance SnO2, as it is a resonant dopant which is readily incorporated into SnO2 with the Ta 5d states sitting ~1.4 eV above the conduction band minimum. Experimentally, the electron effective mass of Ta doped SnO2 was shown to be 0.23m0, compared to 0.29m0 seen with conventional Sb doping, explaining its ability to yield higher mobilities and conductivities.