Investigation of Cadmium Alternatives in Thin-Film Coatings
S J Wakeham, G J Hawkins
Proc. SPIE, Optics and Photonics Conference, Advances in Thin-Film Coatings for Optical Applications III. (2006)
The health risks associated with the inhalation or ingestion of cadmium are well documented. During the past 18 years, EU legislation has steadily been introduced to restrict its use, leaving a requirement for the development of replacement materials. This paper looks at possible alternatives to various cadmium II-VI dielectric compounds used in the deposition of optical thin-films for various optoelectronic devices. Application areas of particular interest are for infrared multilayer interference filter fabrication and solar cell industries, where cadmium-based coatings currently find widespread use. The results of single and multilayer designs comprising CdTe, CdS, CdSe and PbTe deposited onto group IV and II-VI materials as interference filters for the mid-IR region are presented. Thin films of SnN, SnO2, SnS and SnSe are fabricated by plasma assisted CVD, reactive RF sputtering and thermal evaporation. Examination of these films using FTIR spectroscopy, SEM, EDX analysis and optical characterisation methods provide details of material dispersion, absorption, composition, refractive index, energy band gap and layer thicknesses. The optimisation of deposition parameters in order to synthesise coatings with similar optical and semiconductor properties as those containing cadmium has been investigated. Results of environmental, durability and stability trials are also presented.