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Photoactivity under visible light of defective ZnO investigated by EPR spectroscopy and photoluminescence

Cerrato, Erik, Paganini, Maria Cristina and Giamello, Elio 2020. Photoactivity under visible light of defective ZnO investigated by EPR spectroscopy and photoluminescence. Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology A: Chemistry 397 , 112531. 10.1016/j.jphotochem.2020.112531

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The photochemical and photophysical properties of a defective zinc oxide prepared by precipitation have been investigated using mainly electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) and photoluminescence (PL) spectroscopy. As already reported in the literature the band gap of the oxide contains intra band gap states related to the presence of point defects (mainly cation vacancies) in the structure. The concentration and the energy levels of such defects, a fraction of them being paramagnetic, are the basis of a mechanisms of double and multiple excitations allowing visible photons with energy lower than the band gap value (hν < Eg) to promote electrons from the valence band (VB) to the conduction band (CB) similarly, though less efficiently, to what done by UV light with hν > Eg. Remarkably, some of the paramagnetic defects present in the bulk of the as prepared materials derive from excitation of VB electrons induced by ambient light illumination. The electron excitation from VB to CB has been observed upon irradiation under vacuum at 77 K with polychromatic light and applying four different filters to the emitted radiation with cut-off in the range between 400 nm and 495 nm. The process has been monitored by EPR as the photoexcitation ends up in the formation of trapped electron centers (signal at g = 1.96) and trapped hole centers (signal in the range 2.021 > g > 2.003) both clearly detected by this technique. A scheme of the energy state distribution in the band gap of the defective oxide, obtained coupling EPR and photoluminescence results, is proposed. Finally, a non-negligible fraction of the visible light generated carriers reach the surface of the nanocrystals, entailing the typical redox reactions of photocatalysis as indicated by the detection of hydroxyl radicals in solution performed by spin-trapping. For this reason, the wet chemistry prepared zinc oxide can be considered a visible light active (VLA) system.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Chemistry
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 1010-6030
Date of Acceptance: 31 March 2020
Last Modified: 04 Feb 2021 15:30

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