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Effects of Polyethylenimine and Its Molecular Weight on the Chemical Bath Deposition of ZnO Nanowires

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journal contribution
posted on 02.10.2018, 18:35 by Romain Parize, Jérôme Daniel Garnier, Estelle Appert, Odette Chaix-Pluchery, Vincent Consonni
The addition of polyethylenimine (PEI) in the standard chemical bath deposition (CBD) of ZnO nanowires has received an increasing interest for monitoring their aspect ratio, but the physicochemical processes at work are still under debate. To address this issue, the effects of PEI are disentangled from the effects of ammonia and investigated over a broad range of molecular weight (i.e., chain length) and concentration, varying from 1300 to 750 000 and from 1.5 to 10 mM, respectively. It is shown that the addition of PEI strongly favors the elongation of ZnO nanowires by suppressing the homogeneous growth at the benefit of the heterogeneous growth as well as by changing the supersaturation level through a pH modification. PEI is further found to inhibit the development of the sidewalls of ZnO nanowires by adsorbing on their nonpolar m-planes, as supported by Raman scattering analysis. The inhibition proceeds even in the low pH range, which somehow rules out the present involvement of electrostatic interactions as the dominant mechanism for the adsorption. Furthermore, it is revealed that PEI drastically affects the nucleation process of ZnO nanowires on the polycrystalline ZnO seed layer by presumably adsorbing on the nanoparticles oriented with the m-planes parallel to the surface, reducing in turn their nucleation rate as well as inducing a significant vertical misalignment. These findings, specifically showing the effects of the PEI molecular weight and concentration, cast light onto its multiple roles in the CBD of ZnO nanowires.