Solution-Chemical Synthesis of Cobalt and Iron:Zinc Oxide Nanocomposite Films

University dissertation from Uppsala : Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis

Abstract: The potentially most important challenges today are related to energy and the environment. New materials and methods are needed in order to, in a sustainable way, convert and store energy, reduce pollution, and clean the air and water from contaminations. In this, nanomaterials and nanocomposites play a key role, and hence knowledge about the relation between synthesis, structure, and properties of nanosystems is paramount.This thesis demonstrates that solution-chemical synthesis, using amine-modified acetates and nitrates, can be used to prepare widely different nanostructured films. By adjusting the synthesis parameters, metals, oxides, and metal–oxide or oxide–oxide nanocomposites were prepared for two systems based on Co and Zn:Fe, respectively, and the films were characterised using diffraction, spectroscopy, and microscopy techniques, and SQUID magnetometry.A variety of crystalline cobalt films—Co metal, CoO, Co3O4, and composites with different metal:oxide ratios—were synthesised. Heat-treatment parameters and control of the film thickness enabled tuning of the phase ratios. Random and layered Co–CoO composites were prepared by utilising different heating rates and gas flow rates together with a morphology effect associated with the furnace tube. The Co–CoO films exhibited exchange bias due to the ferromagnetic–antiferromagnetic interaction between the Co and CoO, whereas variations in e.g. coercivity and exchange bias field were attributed to differences in the structure and phase distribution.Ordered structures of wurtzite ZnO surrounded by amorphous ZnxFeyO were prepared through controlled phase segregation during the heating, which after multiple coating and heating cycles yielded ZnO–ZnxFeyO superlattices. The amorphous ZnxFeyO was a prerequisite for superlattice formation, and it profoundly affected the ZnO phase, inhibiting grain growth and texture, already from 1% Fe. In addition, ZnO–ZnxFeyO exhibited a photocatalytic activity for the oxidation of water that was higher than results reported for pure ZnO, and comparable to recent results reported for graphene-modified ZnO.