Hierarchical 3D ZnO nanowire structures via fast anodization of zinc†
ZnO nanowire structures are used today in a variety of applications, from gas/chemical sensing to photocatalysis, photovoltaics and piezoelectric actuation. Electrochemical anodization of zinc foil allows rapid formation of high aspect ratio ZnO nanowires under mild reaction conditions compared to more common fabrication methods. In this study we demonstrate, for the first time, how 3D hierarchical ZnO nanowire structures can be fabricated by controlling the type of electrolyte and anodization voltage, temperature and time. Optimization of the reaction conditions yields growth rates of up to 3.2 μm min−1 and the controlled formation of aligned arrays of nanowires, flower-like nanostructures, and hierarchical, fractal nanowire structures. Annealing of the nanowires produces high surface area (55 m2 g−1) nanowires with slit-type pores perpendicular to the nanowire axis. In depth analysis of the anodization process allows us to propose the likely growth mechanisms at work during anodization. The findings presented here not only contribute to our knowledge of the interesting area of zinc anodization, but also enable researchers to design complex hierarchical structures for use in areas such as photovoltaics, photocatalysis and sensing.