The magnetism of undoped ZnS nanotetrapods, synthesized by a solvothermal method, has been investigated by magnetization measurements and first principle numerical calculations. The background magnetic impurity concentrations of Fe, Co and Ni were determined at ppm level by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS). Hysteresis loops of weak ferromagnetism were observed, attributable to the magnetic impurities. However, the total magnetic moments analyzed from the paramagnetism are far beyond the explanations from the presence of these magnetic impurities, by about two orders of magnitude larger. It implies a different origin of the magnetic moments. Electron microscopy analysis reveals that there are defects in the sample. Numerical simulations indicate that the excessive magnetic moments might arise from the local band structure of polarized electrons associated with the defects of cation deficiency. This study elaborates on the understanding of magnetic properties in the non-magnetic II–VI semiconductor nanomaterials.
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