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High-performance zinc oxide (ZnO) thin-film transistors (TFTs) with location-controlled lateral grain were fabricated by low-temperature hydrothermal method. The ZnO active channel was laterally grown with aluminum-doped ZnO (AZO) seed layer underneath the Ti/Pt film. The annealed ZnO TFTs reveal high-quality ZnO films with the compensated structural defects in the channel region compared to the unannealed devices. Thus, the superior device performances (i.e. the excellent μFE of 9.07 cm2/V·s, high on/off current ratio of ~ 106, and low gate leakage current of <; 1 nA) of hydrothermal growth (HTG) ZnO TFTs can be achieved after annealing.