Conventional scintillation detectors are typically single crystals of heavy-metal oxides or halides doped with rare-earth ions that record the recombination of electron-hole pairs by photon emission in the visible to ultraviolet. However, the light yields are typically low enough to require photomultiplier detection with the attendant instrumental complications. Here we report initial studies of gamma ray detection by zinc oxide (ZnO) nanowires, grown by vapor-solid deposition. The nanowires grow along the c-axis in a wurtzite structure; they are typically 80 nm in diameter and have lengths of 1- 2 μm. The nanowires are single crystals of high quality, with a photoluminescence (PL) yield from band-edge exciton emission in the ultraviolet that is typically one hundred times larger than the PL yield from defect centers in the visible. Nanowire ensembles were irradiated by 662 keV gamma rays from a Cs-137 source for periods of up to ten hours; gamma rays in this energy range interact by Compton scattering, which in ZnO creates F+ centers that relax to form singly-charged positive oxygen vacancies. Following irradiation, we fit the PL spectra of the visible emission with a sum of Gaussians at the energies of the known defects. We find highly efficient PL from the irradiated area, with a figure of merit approaching 106 photons/s/MeV of deposited energy. Over a period of days, the singly charged O+ vacancies relax to the more stable doubly charged O++ vacancies. However, the overall defect PL returns to pre-irradiation values after about a week, as the vacancies diffuse to the surface of these very thin nanowires, indicating that a self-healing process restores the nanowires to their original state.
There is increasing demand for functional polymeric optical coatings for plastic substrates. In the case of anti-reflective (AR) coatings, this is challenging because polymers exhibit a relatively narrow range of refractive indices. We synthesized a four-layer AR stack using hybrid polymer:nanoparticle materials deposited by resonant infrared matrixassisted pulsed laser evaporation (RIR-MAPLE). An Er:YAG laser ablated frozen solutions of a high-index composite containing TiO2 nanoparticles and PMMA, alternating with a low-index solution of PMMA. The optimized AR coatings, with thicknesses calculated using commercial software, yielded a coating for polycarbonate with relative transmission over 94%, scattering less than 5% and a reflection coefficient below 0.8% across the visible range.
Vertically oriented ZnO nanowires (NWs) are grown upon silicon substrates using a novel, modified vapor-solid
method. Electron-beam evaporation is then used to functionalize the sides of the ZnO NWs with MgO:Ag via glancing
angle deposition (GLAD). By varying the thickness of the deposited MgO insulating layer, it is possible to study the
underlying energetic mechanisms responsible for the quenching and enhancement of ZnO photoluminescence centers.
For the visible emission, strong quenching was observed to occur independently of the MgO thickness. In contrast, the
band-edge emission displayed an enhancement factor of 19 as the thickness of the MgO spacer was increased.