Fe-lactate mediated formation of ZnO sols and self-organized nanorod assemblies
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Hot ethanolic mixtures of hydrated Zn(II)- and Fe(II)-carboxylates (acetate and lactate) react to form yellow-orange colored Fe(III)xZnyOzOHw heteroclusters showing pronounced electronic resonances in the optical UV absorption spectra. On the addition of LiOH to these polymolecular sols, stable nanoparticulate Fe(III)–ZnO colloids are formed. During colloidal growth, 2–4 nm sized weakly crystallized Wurtzite nanoparticles are exclusively formed even in the presence of high Fe content up to 20 at.%. The presence of Fe(III) in the ZnO condensation process retards the nanoparticle growth and blocks the thermal crystallization and size enhancement up to 250 °C. The produced 0.5 M Fe(III)–ZnO sols are useful for film formation processes. From atomic force microscopy-AFM, scanning electron microscopy-SEM and X-ray diffraction-XRD studies, we note important differences in shape and morphology of the thermally annealed Fe(III)–ZnO layers depending on the iron carboxylate employed. Surprisingly, Fe(II)-lactate derived coatings are carrying vertically oriented cone-shaped aggregates composed of 60–120 nm long primary nanorods. Contrary, Fe(II)-acetate based synthesis gave sand-dune like film morphologies containing spherical 12 nm sized nanocrystallites. All film samples possess mesoporosity with pore size ranging between 5 and 20 nm.
KeywordsNanoparticles Nanorods ZnO Fe-doped ZnO Sol–gel coatings
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