Nanophase semiconductor composites are widely researched for the development of third-generation photovoltaic (PV) devices. Through quantum-size effects and phase assembly manipulation the optical absorption and carrier transport properties of nanocomposite films can be influenced. We investigate the potential for improved PV-relevant material performance by examining the photo-sensitization of indium-tin-oxide (ITO) with nanophase germanium (Ge). Nanocomposite films are produced by a sequential, RF-magnetron sputter deposition technique. Deposition control and post-deposition annealing are used to demonstrate the manipulation of the extended-assembly of the nanocrystalline Ge phase. Optical absorption characteristics were correlated to variations in the composite film structure as confirmed by transmission electron microscopy. In addition to structure-dependent variation in spectral absorption, spectrally resolved photoconductivity measurements demonstrate enhanced photoconductivity of composite films associated with the incorporation of the Ge phase into the ITO host. These results support the further evaluation of such nanocomposite TCO materials in optoelectronic devices, including PV systems.
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