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Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy in Engineering Physics (PhD)
College, School or Department Name
Department of Physics
Yoke Khin Yap
ZnO has proven to be a multifunctional material with important nanotechnological applications. ZnO nanostructures can be grown in various forms such as nanowires, nanorods, nanobelts, nanocombs etc. In this work, ZnO nanostructures are grown in a double quartz tube configuration thermal Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD) system. We focus on functionalized ZnO Nanostructures by controlling their structures and tuning their properties for various applications. The following topics have been investigated:
1. We have fabricated various ZnO nanostructures using a thermal CVD technique. The growth parameters were optimized and studied for different nanostructures.
2. We have studied the application of ZnO nanowires (ZnONWs) for field effect transistors (FETs). Unintentional n-type conductivity was observed in our FETs based on as-grown ZnO NWs. We have then shown for the first time that controlled incorporation of hydrogen into ZnO NWs can introduce p-type characters to the nanowires. We further found that the n-type behaviors remained, leading to the ambipolar behaviors of hydrogen incorporated ZnO NWs. Importantly, the detected p- and n- type behaviors are stable for longer than two years when devices were kept in ambient conditions. All these can be explained by an ab initio model of Zn vacancy-Hydrogen complexes, which can serve as the donor, acceptors, or green photoluminescence quencher, depend on the number of hydrogen atoms involved.
3. Next ZnONWs were tested for electron field emission. We focus on reducing the threshold field (Eth) of field emission from non-aligned ZnO NWs. As encouraged by our results on enhancing the conductivity of ZnO NWs by hydrogen annealing described in Chapter 3, we have studied the effect of hydrogen annealing for improving field emission behavior of our ZnO NWs. We found that optimally annealed ZnO NWs offered much lower threshold electric field and improved emission stability. We also studied field emission from ZnO NWs at moderate vacuum levels. We found that there exists a minimum Eth as we scale the threshold field with pressure. This behavior is explained by referring to Paschen’s law.
4. We have studied the application of ZnO nanostructures for solar energy harvesting. First, as-grown and (CdSe) ZnS QDs decorated ZnO NBs and ZnONWs were tested for photocurrent generation. All these nanostructures offered fast response time to solar radiation. The decoration of QDs decreases the stable current level produced by ZnONWs but increases that generated by NBs. It is possible that NBs offer more stable surfaces for the attachment of QDs. In addition, our results suggests that performance degradation of solar cells made by growing ZnO NWs on ITO is due to the increase in resistance of ITO after the high temperature growth process. Hydrogen annealing also improve the efficiency of the solar cells by decreasing the resistance of ITO. Due to the issues on ITO, we use Ni foil as the growth substrates. Performance of solar cells made by growing ZnO NWs on Ni foils degraded after Hydrogen annealing at both low (300 °C) and high (600 °C) temperatures since annealing passivates native defects in ZnONWs and thus reduce the absorption of visible spectra from our solar simulator. Decoration of QDs improves the efficiency of such solar cells by increasing absorption of light in the visible region. Using a better electrolyte than phosphate buffer solution (PBS) such as KI also improves the solar cell efficiency.
5. Finally, we have attempted p-type doping of ZnO NWs using various growth precursors including phosphorus pentoxide, sodium fluoride, and zinc fluoride. We have also attempted to create p-type carriers via introducing interstitial fluorine by annealing ZnO nanostructures in diluted fluorine gas. In brief, we are unable to reproduce the growth of reported p-type ZnO nanostructures. However; we have identified the window of temperature and duration of post-growth annealing of ZnO NWs in dilute fluorine gas which leads to suppression of native defects. This is the first experimental effort on post-growth annealing of ZnO NWs in dilute fluorine gas although this has been suggested by a recent theory for creating p-type semiconductors. In our experiments the defect band peak due to native defects is found to decrease by annealing at 300 °C for 10 – 30 minutes. One of the major future works will be to determine the type of charge carriers in our annealed ZnONWs.
Prasad, Abhishek, "Functional ZnO nanostructures for electronic and energy applications", Dissertation, Michigan Technological University, 2011.