Growth and field emission properties of ZnO nanostructures deposited by a novel pulsed laser ablation source on silicon substrates
ABSTRACT Zinc oxide (ZnO) nanostructures were produced using a novel pulsed laser ablation apparatus comprising in-situ analysis of the plume by reflection time-of-flight mass spectrometry. Various morphologies of nano and microstructures were obtained for laser wavelengths of 1064 and 355 nm, and oxygen ambient pressures of 10−6 and 10−2 mbar, respectively. None of the produced structures exhibited a particular type of self-organisation whereas all of them showed low aspect ratios and good field emission properties. Optimum values of 5.2 V μm−1 and 2060 were obtained for the turn-on field and Fowler–Nordheim enhancement factor, respectively, for deposited nano-tipped microstructures presenting a high coverage of the substrate. The experimental data showed that for a given laser wavelength, higher field enhancement factors were obtained for the samples grown at the lower pressure of 10−6 mbar. In these conditions, the deposited materials showed distinct nanostructuring and comparison with existing data showed the corresponding ablation plumes to contain (ZnO)n clusters, up to n=13. This work also shows that the electronic properties of the nanostructured ZnO produced in our conditions, as determined by the oxygen concentration during deposition, have an influence on the field emission properties in addition to the nanostructure morphology.