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Nitrogen-Doping in ZnO via Combustion Synthesis?

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posted on 23.06.2015, 00:00 by Stefan Söllradl, Magnus Greiwe, Vanessa J. Bukas, Magnus R. Buchner, Marc Widenmeyer, Timur Kandemir, Tobias Zweifel, Anatoliy Senyshyn, Sebastian Günther, Tom Nilges, Andreas Türler, Rainer Niewa
We report the synthesis and characterization of colored ZnO-based powders via solution combustion reaction of urea and zinc nitrate hexahydrate in varying molar ratios between 1:1 and 10:1. Among other techniques, we employ X-ray diffraction, nuclear magnetic resonance, and Raman spectroscopy to characterize the products. Within a narrow range of reactant ratios, we reproducibly find an unidentified, crystalline precursor phase related to isocyanuric acid next to ZnO. Finally, we complement our investigations by performing Prompt Gamma Activation Analysis (PGAA) on selected products in order to directly determine elemental bulk compositions and compare these with X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) measurements. Our data show traces of nitrogen mainly on the surface of the particles, and thus we question the solution combustion method as a reliable synthesis toward N-doped ZnO. Furthermore, we exclude nitrogen as being responsible for the appearance of the four controversially discussed Raman bands superimposed onto the spectrum of pure ZnO (at 275, 510, 582, and 643 cm–1) and show that the combination of PGAA and XPS is an excellent and complementary method to obtain information about the distribution of the elements in question.