Synthesis, characterization and application of ZnO nanomaterials

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Mai, Wenjie
Wang, Zhong Lin
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In this thesis, high temperature vapor deposition method has been extensively used to synthesize nanomaterials. One of the as-synthesized nanostructures is superlattice-structured nanohelix, which is made of two types of alternating and periodically distributed long crystal strips. The manipulation of the nanohelix showed super-elasticity and special fracture mechanism. The other widely studied nanomaterial is vertically aligned ZnO nanowire array, which is epitaxially grown on GaN and SiC substrates. Several manipulation methods such as e-beam lithography (EBL), dielectrophoresis, and in situ direct manipulation, have been developed, so that the mechanical and electrical properties of a single nanowire can be characterized, which provide essential references for fabricating bridged nanowire based devices. Specifically, an improved atomic force microscope (AFM) based method has been developed to accurately measure the elastic modulus of bridged ZnO nanowires. Bridged nanostructure is an extremely important configuration in planar MEMS/NEMS devices and this new approach provides insights to the importance of boundary conditions. Novel physical and statistical models have been firstly developed to obtain better estimate of elastic modulus. For electrical properties of bridged nanowires, it is found that the direct contact of ZnO nanowire and Au electrodes displays a back-to-back Schottky behavior. Self-assembled monolayer (SAM) can improve the mechanical contact and increase the conductance. These devices with Schottky contacts show much better UV sensing performance than the ones with Ohmic contacts. Barrier height change is believed to play an important role in a lot of sensors. A thermionic emission-diffusion model is deduced to successfully explain the current change in a strain sensor. This thesis clearly exhibits the unique properties of ZnO nanomaterials and provides deeper understanding to methodologies as well as the phenomena. With further exploration, ZnO nanomaterials should be able to better understood and utilized, and come close to the next step of commercialization.
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