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SILAR-engineered ZnO thin films: exploring the impact of Ni, Co, and Fe dopants on structural, optical, and electronic properties

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Abstract

This investigation focuses on the elaboration of undoped zinc oxide (ZnO) thin films and ZnO thin films doped with 6% of nickel (Ni), cobalt (Co), and iron (Fe). The fabrication process employed the Successive Ionic Layer Adsorption and Reaction (SILAR) method, involving 30 SILAR cycles, and annealing at 400 °C in an oxygen-rich environment. Structural analysis via X-ray diffraction (XRD) revealed a hexagonal wurtzite structure characteristic of ZnO. No secondary phases associated with Ni, Fe, or Co were identified. The incorporation of dopants led to decreased crystallinity, indicated by a reduction in XRD peak intensities and a change in preferred orientation. Optical characterization unveiled a red shift in the transmittance spectra of doped ZnO thin films, signifying a reduction in the bandgap energy when compared to undoped ZnO. This reduction holds promise for augmenting photocatalytic performance and enhancing electrical conductivity in practical applications. Morphological investigations showed modifications in grain size and distribution within the doped samples, aligning with the structural observations. Energy-dispersive X-ray (EDX) analysis confirmed the successful integration of dopant atoms into the ZnO lattice. Electrical measurements confirmed that all doped ZnO samples exhibited n-type semiconductor behavior, characterized by lowered resistivity, increased mobility, and carrier concentration relative to undoped ZnO. These enhancements can be attributed to the introduction of additional electrons by the dopants. This comprehensive examination offers valuable insights into the structural, optical, and electrical characteristics of doped ZnO thin films, providing a promising route for their integration into optoelectronic and energy conversion devices.

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The datasets produced and examined during the present study can be obtained by reaching out to the corresponding author upon a reasonable request.

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The authors of this scientific article contributed to the study as follows: Ismail Benaicha and Youness Ait-Alla: conceptualization, study design, and overall supervision. Jaouad Mhalla, Ridouane Bakkali, Othmane Daoudi, and Ilyass Jelall: Conducted a comprehensive literature review and provided critical insights during manuscript development. Khalid Nouneh: Contributed to the literature review and provided valuable feedback on the manuscript. Mounir Fahoume: Responsible for technical measurements and data analysis. Ahmed Qachaou: Provided supervision, guidance, and oversight throughout the entirety of the study.

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Correspondence to Ismail Benaicha.

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Benaicha, I., Ait-Alla, Y., Mhalla, J. et al. SILAR-engineered ZnO thin films: exploring the impact of Ni, Co, and Fe dopants on structural, optical, and electronic properties. J Mater Sci: Mater Electron 35, 919 (2024). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10854-024-12678-2

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