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Synthesis of Zinc Oxide Nanorods via the Formation of Sea Urchin Structures and Their Photoluminescence after Heat Treatment

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journal contribution
posted on 09.04.2018, 00:00 by Mattias E. Karlsson, Yann C. Mamie, Andrea Calamida, James M. Gardner, Valter Ström, Amir Masoud Pourrahimi, Richard T. Olsson
A protocol for the aqueous synthesis of ca. 1-μm-long zinc oxide (ZnO) nanorods and their growth at intermediate reaction progression is presented, together with photoluminescence (PL) characteristics after heat treatment at temperatures of up to 1000 °C. The existence of solitary rods after the complete reaction (60 min) was traced back to the development of sea urchin structures during the first 5 s of the precipitation. The rods primarily formed in later stages during the reaction due to fracture, which was supported by the frequently observed broken rod ends with sharp edges in the final material, in addition to tapered uniform rod ends consistent with their natural growth direction. The more dominant rod growth in the c direction (extending the length of the rods), together with the appearance of faceted surfaces on the sides of the rods, occurred at longer reaction times (>5 min) and generated zinc-terminated particles that were more resistant to alkaline dissolution. A heat treatment for 1 h at 600 or 800 °C resulted in a smoothing of the rod surfaces, and PL measurements displayed a decreased defect emission at ca. 600 nm, which was related to the disappearance of lattice imperfections formed during the synthesis. A heat treatment at 1000 °C resulted in significant crystal growth reflected as an increase in luminescence at shorter wavelengths (ca. 510 nm). Electron microscopy revealed that the faceted rod structure was lost for ZnO rods exposed to temperatures above 600 °C, whereas even higher temperatures resulted in particle sintering and/or mass redistribution along the initially long and slender ZnO rods. The synthesized ZnO rods were a more stable Wurtzite crystal structure than previously reported ball-shaped ZnO consisting of merging sheets, which was supported by the shifts in PL spectra occurring at ca. 200 °C higher annealing temperature, in combination with a smaller thermogravimetric mass loss occurring upon heating the rods to 800 °C.