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Microwave-assisted synthesis of layered basic zinc acetate nanosheets and their thermal decomposition into nanocrystalline ZnO

Afshin Tarat1, Chris J Nettle1, Daniel T J Bryant2, Daniel R Jones1, Mark W Penny1, Richard A Brown1, Ravish Majitha3, Kenith E Meissner4 and Thierry G G Maffeis1*

Author Affiliations

1 Multidisciplinary Nanotechnology Centre, College of Engineering, University of Swansea, Singleton Park, Swansea SA28PP, UK

2 SPECIFIC, College of Engineering, University of Swansea, Baglan, Swansea SA2 8PP, UK

3 Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843, USA

4 Department of Biomedical Engineering, Texas A&M University, Emerging Technology Building, College Station, TX 77843-312, USA

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Nanoscale Research Letters 2014, 9:11  doi:10.1186/1556-276X-9-11

Published: 8 January 2014


We have developed a low-cost technique using a conventional microwave oven to grow layered basic zinc acetate (LBZA) nanosheets (NSs) from a zinc acetate, zinc nitrate and HMTA solution in only 2 min. The as-grown crystals and their pyrolytic decomposition into ZnO nanocrystalline NSs are characterized by scanning electron microscopy (SEM), energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS), atomic force microscopy (AFM), X-ray diffraction (XRD) and photoluminescence (PL). SEM and AFM measurements show that the LBZA NSs have typical lateral dimensions of 1 to 5 μm and thickness of 20 to 100 nm. Annealing in air from 200°C to 1,000°C results in the formation of ZnO nanocrystalline NSs, with a nanocrystallite size ranging from 16 nm at 200°C to 104 nm at 1,000°C, as determined by SEM. SEM shows evidence of sintering at 600°C. PL shows that the shape of the visible band is greatly affected by the annealing temperature and that the exciton band to defect band intensity ratio is maximum at 400°C and decreases by a factor of 15 after annealing at 600°C. The shape and thickness of the ZnO nanocrystalline NSs are the same as LBZA NSs. This structure provides a high surface-to-volume ratio of interconnected nanoparticles that is favorable for applications requiring high specific area and low resistivity such as gas sensing and dye-sensitized solar cells (DSCs). We show that resistive gas sensors fabricated with the ZnO NSs showed a response of 1.12 and 1.65 to 12.5 ppm and 200 ppm of CO at 350°C in dry air, respectively, and that DSCs also fabricated from the material had an overall efficiency of 1.3%.


81.07.-b; 62.23.Kn; 61.82.Fk

ZnO; Nanocrystalline; LBZA; Gas sensor; Solar cell