Universal Work Function of Metal Oxides Exposed to Air

Kevin J. Rietwyk, David A. Keller, Adam Ginsburg, Hannah Noa Barad, Maayan Priel, Koushik Majhi, Zhi Yan, Shay Tirosh, Assaf Y. Anderson, Lothar Ley, Arie Zaban

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Metal oxides are the cornerstone of thin-film electronics, a multibillion dollar industry, because they possess a wide variety of optoelectronic properties, exhibit novel functionalities, and can typically be fabricated from cheap, nontoxic raw materials. However, for thin-film electronics to achieve further market penetration, it is necessary to replace expensive vacuum-based fabrication processes with low-cost, large-scale solution-based methods. Here, the influence of exposure to air on the band energies of metal oxides is investigated, which is crucial for predicting the operation of thin-film devices under realistic conditions. A universal reduction in the work function is observed across 18 oxides, and for a subset, n-type doping of the surfaces is observed after they have been exposed to atmosphere for extended periods of time. These effects arise from charge transfer events with the ubiquitous water layer that forms on surfaces in air. A quantitative analysis of the changes is provided based on the electrochemical transfer doping model, and the amount of transferred charge and the equilibrium work function of oxides in air are calculated which are in agreement with the measurements.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1802058
JournalAdvanced Materials Interfaces
Issue number12
StatePublished - 21 Jun 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
K.J.R. received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement no. 659774. This research was supported by Israel Science Foundation (grant no. 1729/15) and the Israeli National Nanotechnology Initiative (FTA project). This research was funded (partially or fully) by the Australian government through the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Exciton Science (project number CE170100026).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim


  • air
  • band alignment
  • electrochemical transfer doping
  • metal oxides
  • work function


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