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Issue 39, 2013
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Plasma-induced enhancement of UV photoluminescence in ZnO nanowires

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The photoluminescence emission of ZnO nanowires was modified by means of plasma etching, inducing a strong increase in the Near Band Edge emission (NBE) in the UV region (3.26 eV). In contrast, annealing treatment at 600 °C quenched the NBE peak. This opens the possibility to modify the emission properties of ZnO nanowires by means of surface treatment, and is of great importance in view of the application of ZnO as an emitting material. ZnO nanowires were prepared by the vapour phase growth technique in a tubular furnace. Morphological and structural characterization was carried out by scanning and transmission electron microscopy, showing no modifications to the morphology and crystalline arrangements after plasma etching. The nanowires are single crystalline with a high aspect ratio and diameters in the 50–100 nm range. The optical properties of the ZnO nanowires were studied by continuous wave photoluminescence (PL). Ar and O2 plasma etching treatment caused modification of the PL spectrum, inducing a strong enhancement of the NBE peak, and an increased ratio of NBE over Deep Level Emission (DLE), thus indicating a better sample quality after the treatment. The effect of the Ar treatment is higher than the effect of O2 treatment, since the ratio of NBE : DLE obtained for O2 plasma etching is smaller than the ratio observed for Ar. Conversely, annealing at 600 °C in an O2 or Ar atmosphere induced the quenching of the NBE and an increase of the DLE in the PL spectrum of the ZnO nanowires. The variations in the spectroscopic features are discussed in terms of hydrogen diffusion and the passivation of states responsible for non-radiative recombination.

Graphical abstract: Plasma-induced enhancement of UV photoluminescence in ZnO nanowires

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Article information

07 Jun 2013
05 Aug 2013
First published
06 Aug 2013

CrystEngComm, 2013,15, 7981-7986
Article type

Plasma-induced enhancement of UV photoluminescence in ZnO nanowires

C. Baratto, E. Comini, M. Ferroni, G. Faglia and G. Sberveglieri, CrystEngComm, 2013, 15, 7981
DOI: 10.1039/C3CE41055B

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