We used depth-resolved cathodoluminescence spectroscopy (DRCLS) to describe the strong dependence of Li acceptor formation on thermal treatment in Li-doped ZnO. Within a 500-600 °C annealing temperature range, subsequent quenching ZnO leaves Li as interstitial donors, resulting in low room temperature resistivity, while slow cooling in air allows these interstitials to fill Zn vacancies forming Li acceptors 3.0 eV below the conduction band edge. DRCLS reveals an inverse relationship between the optical emission densities of lithium on zinc sites versus zinc vacancy sites, demonstrating the time dependence of Li interstitials to combine with zinc vacancies in order to form substitutional Li acceptors.
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