The Properties and Applications of ZnO Nanoparticles

The inorganic compound zinc oxide (ZnO) is synthesized at industrial scales worldwide, with an array of manufacturing applications. Powders and dispersions comprising ZnO are broadly used in the production of synthetic rubber, dermatological ointments, food additives, and more. Relatively recent research and development into the properties and applications of ZnO nanoparticles have explored the innate semiconducting nature of the compound. It is now widely used in the construction of printed electronics such as organic photovoltaics (OPVs) and organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs).

This blog post will explore the properties and applications of ZnO nanoparticles in more detail.

The Optoelectronic Properties of ZnO Nanoparticles

ZnO nanoparticles exhibit a range of beneficial optoelectronic properties including good transparency, high electron mobility, and a wide band gap. The direct optical band gap of indivual ZnO nanoparticles at room temperature is reported at ~3.4 electronvolts (eV), supporting the transmission of electrons through a thin film structure. This is enhanced by its large exciton binding energy (~60 meV), which encourages electron mobility through an optoelectronic architecture comprising electron- and hole-transport materials.

The electrical conductivity of ZnO nanoparticles can be finely-tuned by introducing intentional impurities into its structural lattice. These dopants include aluminium (Al), which generates a free electron in the crystal’s conduction band and subsequently broadens its band gap alongside increasing its electrical conductivity.

The Applications of ZnO Nanoparticles

Both ZnO, and Al:ZnO nanoparticles can be engineered as powders or dispersions, with tightly-controlled particle size distributions and outstanding purity. Avantama has developed the world’s first surfactant-free inks for hole- or electron-transport materials, eliminating the need for high-temperature post-baking. This supports the manufacture of high-strength electronic grade ZnO nanoparticles with excellent opto-electronic properties.

Our ZnO nanoparticles can be formulated in various solvents including acetone, 2-propanol, and a mix of butanols. These can be tailored to specific concentrations and levels of viscosity to meet many established printing methodologies. Spin coating, doctor blading, slot die, and ink jet printing of ZnO nanoparticle dispersions is possible for high-throughput electronics engineering. These techniques regularly serve the OLED and OPV markets.

Nanoparticle Formulations from Avantama

Avantama is one of the world’s leading producers of high-functionality nanoparticles and dispersions for electronics applications. We have synthesized a broad range of off-the-shelf solutions and routinely collaborate with clients to generate bespoke nanoparticle solutions for individual applications.

Explore our full product range to see our established ZnO and Al:ZnO nanoparticles. Or, if you would like to contact us about collaborating on a formulation unique to your manufacturing capabilities, please do not hesitate to contact us.