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Preparation, phase formation and photoluminescence properties of ZnO–SiO 2 –B 2 O 3 glasses with different ZnO/B 2 O 3 ratios Zahra Khalkhali a,, Zohreh Hamnabard b , Shamsi Sadat Alavi Qazvini c , Saeid Baghshahi d , Amir Maghsoudipour e a Department of Material Science, Ceramic Division, Iran University of Science and Technology, Tehran, Iran b Material Research School, Ceramic Group, P.O. Box 14395-836, Alborz, Iran c Department of Materials Engineering, Science and Research Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tehran, Iran d Faculty of Engineering and Technology, Imam Khomeini International University, Qazvin, Iran e Department of Ceramics, Materials and Energy Research Center, Alborz, Iran article info Article history: Received 2 August 2011 Received in revised form 8 November 2011 Accepted 24 November 2011 Available online 22 December 2011 Keywords: Optical basicity Electron emission spectroscopies Photoluminescence X-ray diffraction ZnO Scintillating glass abstract Glasses in ZnO–SiO 2 –B 2 O 3 ternary system with different ZnO/B 2 O 3 ratios were studied as scintillating materials. Differential thermal analysis and X-ray diffraction patterns showed that nucleation of willem- ite and zinc oxide was considerably facilitated with increasing the ZnO/B 2 O 3 ratio. Photoluminescence spectra showed a reduction in intensity over the UV region upon this increment prior to the formation of crystalline phases. Optical basicity as a measure of nonbridging oxygens (NBOs) is elaborated in this study as a major cause of this effect. However, near band edge emission (NBE) after crystallization implied an increase in intensity upon the increment of the ZnO/B 2 O 3 ratio which proved the key role of willemite and zinc oxide as UV emission centers. Ó 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved. 1. Introduction ZnO is a wide band gap (E g = 3.37 eV) donor semiconductor with two photoluminescence emission bands: one at the UV-region which is due to near-band edge excitons of electrons and holes recombination and another at the visible region from transition of trapped electrons [1,2]. The narrow UV emission band around 380 nm (3.25 eV) has a short lifetime (10–100 ps) which makes it favorable for superfast scintillators, whereas that of the wider and more intense band over the visible region at 500–530 nm (2.35–2.50 eV) is in the ls range [3]. While initial investigations on ZnO were predominantly done on photo electrochemistry and photo catalysis, recent research interests have been attracted to ZnO’s potential applicability in optoelectrical devices [1] such as gamma ray detectors [4] and vacuum fluorescent displays [3]. ZnO is well known as a nonstoichiometric oxide due to exis- tence of oxygen vacancies which together with other structural de- fects leads to the visible emission band in ZnO. Intrinsic structural defects in ZnO are eliminated considerably when it is embedded in a glass. Moreover, scintillating glasses are produced more easily at a lower expense and have higher durability and thermal shock resistance compared to single crystals [5]. However, only a few studies have so far been conducted on photoluminescence proper- ties of ZnO embedded in a glass matrix. Glass ceramics have both advantages of glasses and single crystals at the same time and thus attract research interests in optical applications such as light emit- ting and laser diodes. In this work, 60–63 mol ZnO was added to borosilicate glass compositions ranging from 25SiO 2 –15B 2 O 3 to 25SiO 2 –12B 2 O 3 to investigate the influence of embedding ZnO within a glass matrix on its PL characteristics after excitation. SiO 2 as a main component of all samples acts as the glass former while B 2 O 3 plays its role as an efficient flux due to the weak bonds between [BO n ] structural units [6]. ZnO as PL emission centers is included in all samples with the largest proportion of glass compositions. The influence of dif- ferent nucleating agents such as TiO 2 and V 2 O 5 on thermal and photoluminescence properties of this glass system was investi- gated in a previous work [7]. In the present study, we probed the effect of increasing the ZnO/B 2 O 3 ratio on phase formation, micro- structure and PL properties of SiO 2 –ZnO–B 2 O 3 glass systems pre- pared by melt quenching method in order to optimize preparation conditions including time and temperature of heat treatment as well as composition of the glass. 0925-3467/$ - see front matter Ó 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.optmat.2011.11.020 Corresponding author. Tel.: +98 2614464088; fax: +98 2614464097. E-mail addresses: [email protected] (Z. Khalkhali), zhamnabard@nrcam .org (Z. Hamnabard), [email protected] (S.S.A. Qazvini), [email protected] (S. Baghshahi), [email protected] (A. Maghsoudipour). Optical Materials 34 (2012) 850–855 Contents lists available at SciVerse ScienceDirect Optical Materials journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/optmat

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Page 1: Preparation, phase formation and photoluminescence ...In this work, 60–63 mol ZnO was added to borosilicate glass compositions ranging from 25SiO 2–15B 2O 3 to 25SiO 2–12B 2O

Optical Materials 34 (2012) 850–855

Contents lists available at SciVerse ScienceDirect

Optical Materials

journal homepage: www.elsevier .com/locate /optmat

Preparation, phase formation and photoluminescence properties of ZnO–SiO2–B2O3

glasses with different ZnO/B2O3 ratios

Zahra Khalkhali a,⇑, Zohreh Hamnabard b, Shamsi Sadat Alavi Qazvini c, Saeid Baghshahi d, AmirMaghsoudipour e

a Department of Material Science, Ceramic Division, Iran University of Science and Technology, Tehran, Iranb Material Research School, Ceramic Group, P.O. Box 14395-836, Alborz, Iranc Department of Materials Engineering, Science and Research Branch, Islamic Azad University, Tehran, Irand Faculty of Engineering and Technology, Imam Khomeini International University, Qazvin, Irane Department of Ceramics, Materials and Energy Research Center, Alborz, Iran

a r t i c l e i n f o

Article history:Received 2 August 2011Received in revised form 8 November 2011Accepted 24 November 2011Available online 22 December 2011

Keywords:Optical basicityElectron emission spectroscopiesPhotoluminescenceX-ray diffractionZnOScintillating glass

0925-3467/$ - see front matter � 2011 Elsevier B.V. Adoi:10.1016/j.optmat.2011.11.020

⇑ Corresponding author. Tel.: +98 2614464088; faxE-mail addresses: [email protected] (Z. Kh

.org (Z. Hamnabard), [email protected] (S.S.A. QazBaghshahi), [email protected] (A. Maghsoudip

a b s t r a c t

Glasses in ZnO–SiO2–B2O3 ternary system with different ZnO/B2O3 ratios were studied as scintillatingmaterials. Differential thermal analysis and X-ray diffraction patterns showed that nucleation of willem-ite and zinc oxide was considerably facilitated with increasing the ZnO/B2O3 ratio. Photoluminescencespectra showed a reduction in intensity over the UV region upon this increment prior to the formationof crystalline phases. Optical basicity as a measure of nonbridging oxygens (NBOs) is elaborated in thisstudy as a major cause of this effect. However, near band edge emission (NBE) after crystallizationimplied an increase in intensity upon the increment of the ZnO/B2O3 ratio which proved the key roleof willemite and zinc oxide as UV emission centers.

� 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction

ZnO is a wide band gap (Eg = 3.37 eV) donor semiconductor withtwo photoluminescence emission bands: one at the UV-regionwhich is due to near-band edge excitons of electrons and holesrecombination and another at the visible region from transitionof trapped electrons [1,2]. The narrow UV emission band around380 nm (3.25 eV) has a short lifetime (10–100 ps) which makes itfavorable for superfast scintillators, whereas that of the widerand more intense band over the visible region at 500–530 nm(2.35–2.50 eV) is in the ls range [3]. While initial investigationson ZnO were predominantly done on photo electrochemistry andphoto catalysis, recent research interests have been attracted toZnO’s potential applicability in optoelectrical devices [1] such asgamma ray detectors [4] and vacuum fluorescent displays [3].

ZnO is well known as a nonstoichiometric oxide due to exis-tence of oxygen vacancies which together with other structural de-fects leads to the visible emission band in ZnO. Intrinsic structuraldefects in ZnO are eliminated considerably when it is embedded in

ll rights reserved.

: +98 2614464097.alkhali), zhamnabard@nrcamvini), [email protected] (S.our).

a glass. Moreover, scintillating glasses are produced more easily ata lower expense and have higher durability and thermal shockresistance compared to single crystals [5]. However, only a fewstudies have so far been conducted on photoluminescence proper-ties of ZnO embedded in a glass matrix. Glass ceramics have bothadvantages of glasses and single crystals at the same time and thusattract research interests in optical applications such as light emit-ting and laser diodes.

In this work, 60–63 mol ZnO was added to borosilicate glasscompositions ranging from 25SiO2–15B2O3 to 25SiO2–12B2O3 toinvestigate the influence of embedding ZnO within a glass matrixon its PL characteristics after excitation. SiO2 as a main componentof all samples acts as the glass former while B2O3 plays its role asan efficient flux due to the weak bonds between [BOn] structuralunits [6]. ZnO as PL emission centers is included in all samples withthe largest proportion of glass compositions. The influence of dif-ferent nucleating agents such as TiO2 and V2O5 on thermal andphotoluminescence properties of this glass system was investi-gated in a previous work [7]. In the present study, we probed theeffect of increasing the ZnO/B2O3 ratio on phase formation, micro-structure and PL properties of SiO2–ZnO–B2O3 glass systems pre-pared by melt quenching method in order to optimizepreparation conditions including time and temperature of heattreatment as well as composition of the glass.

Page 2: Preparation, phase formation and photoluminescence ...In this work, 60–63 mol ZnO was added to borosilicate glass compositions ranging from 25SiO 2–15B 2O 3 to 25SiO 2–12B 2O

Fig. 2. DTA curves of fine and coarse particle size of the base glass G0.

Z. Khalkhali et al. / Optical Materials 34 (2012) 850–855 851

2. Material and methods

Chemically pure reagents SiO2, H3BO3, ZnO were chosen as rawmaterials to prepare glass samples using conventional meltquenching method. Glass composition of (60 + x)ZnO–25SiO2–(15 � x)B2O3 was used for the four glass samples with x = 0, 1, 2,3 noted as G0, G1, G2, G3, respectively. This composition rangewas chosen according to a separate study conducted by Roth etal. [8] in order to facilitate the nucleation of willemite crystals asprominent emission centers. The 100-g batches were melted inhigh alumina crucibles in an electric furnace at 1400 �C for 3 h inair. The melt was poured onto a preheated steel mold and was an-nealed at about 600 �C to release the internal stresses formed dur-ing quenching. Then the furnace was turned off to allow thespecimens to cool down spontaneously to room temperature. Dif-ferential thermal analysis was run on powdered glass specimens of645 lm and 75–225 lm particle size by means of a STA apparatus(1500-Rheometric scientific) to characterize thermal behavior andpeak crystallization temperatures of glass samples. Accordingly,glass specimens were heat treated at nucleating temperature rangeand at peak crystallization temperature for 3 h. Crystalline phasesand microstructure were investigated by X-ray diffractometry(Philips-PW1800) and scanning electron microscopy (PHILIPS-XL30), respectively. Photoluminescence measurements were runon glass specimens heat treated at 610 �C/3 h and at their peakcrystallization temperature for 0.5 and 3 h. They were tested overthe UV and visible region (250–550 nm) by means of a fluorescencespectrophotometer (Perkin Elmer LS-5) using excitation light atdifferent wavelengths at room temperature in air.

3. Results

According to Fig. 1 which presents DTA curves of the glass sam-ples, one main exothermic peak is observed in thermograms of allfour samples which decreased from 775 �C to 765 �C with increas-ing the ZnO/B2O3 ratio from G0 to G3. Meanwhile, the sharpness ofthe exothermic peak increased slightly and glass transition tem-perature increased from 580 �C to 615 �C.

DTA analysis was run on both fine (P45 lm) and coarse(6225 lm) particle size of the base glass composition G0 in orderto determine the effect of particle size on thermal behavior of theglass. The result is presented in Fig. 2. It is seen that the peak crys-tallization temperature is shifted up from 775 �C to 840 �C andmeanwhile increased noticeably in intensity upon replacing thefine particles by the coarse ones. Therefore, it seems reasonableto conclude that the main crystallization mechanism in the presentsystem is by the surface rather than bulk.

Fig. 3 presents XRD patterns of G0, G1, G2 and G3 heat treatedat different temperatures for 3 h. It is seen that samples heat trea-

Fig. 1. DTA analysis of the glass specimens.

ted at 610 �C/3 h and 650 �C/3 h, had amorphous structure. Wil-lemite (JCPDS no. 8-0492) and zinc oxide (JCPDS no. 3-0808)with different intensities appeared after heat treating the samplesat the exothermic peak temperature for 3 h except for G0. More-

Fig. 3. XRD patterns of (a) G0, (b) G1, (c) G2 and (d) G3 heat treated at differenttemperatures for 3 h in accordance to the DTA curves (w: willemite, z: zinc oxide).

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852 Z. Khalkhali et al. / Optical Materials 34 (2012) 850–855

over, representative peaks of willemite and zinc oxide increased inintensity upon gradual substitution of B2O3 by ZnO.

Fig. 4 presents XRD patterns of glasses heat-treated at each cor-responding Tc for 0.5 h. In this case willemite and zinc oxide crys-tallized only in G3 and to a lesser extent in G2 and the other twosamples preserved their amorphous structure.

Fig. 5 shows micrographs of glass specimens G0, G1, G2 andG3 heat treated at their corresponding Tc for 0.5 or 3 h. EDX analy-sis on the pointed aggregate of Fig. 5 presented in Fig. 6, provided asecond evidence of precipitation of willemite crystals in G3. Peaksof Au in the EDX pattern are due to the gold coat of the SEM sam-ples. Approximately similar EDX patterns (not included) were ob-tained on precipitated aggregates of G2 which coincide with XRDresults that indicated crystallization of willemite after a 3 h heattreatment at peak crystallization temperature.

Generally an optimum near band edge emission of ZnO-basedscintillating glasses is obtained at 262 nm excitation wavelength[9,2]. Figs. 7–9 indicate comparative photoluminescence spectraof the four samples excited at kexc = 262 nm after heat treatmentat 610 �C/3 h and at each peak crystallization temperature for 0.5and 3 h, respectively. A descending tendency in the intensity ofthe PL spectra upon the increment of ZnO/B2O3 ratio in Fig. 7 con-verted to an ascending trend with increasing heat treatment from610 �C/3 h to Tc /0.5 h and to Tc /3 h. Meanwhile, they shiftedslightly toward the visible region with gradual substitution ofB2O3 by ZnO. Another observation from Figs. 7–9 is that increasingthe duration of heat treatment at crystallization temperature sig-nificantly increased the intensity of the PL spectra bands in G2and G3.

4. Discussion

X-ray diffraction patterns presented in Figs. 3 and 4 show thatno crystalline phases appeared in G0 even after 3 h heat-treatmentat 770 �C. G1 and G2 also persisted with their amorphous structureunless the duration of heat treating at 770 �C increased from 0.5 hto 3 h. This together with the wide peaks on the DTA curves indi-cates that crystallization occurs probably by the surface ratherthan bulk in the present glass system. The DTA analysis of fineand coarse particle size of the base glass G0 (Fig. 2) strengthensthe presumption that the dominant crystallization mechanism ofthe present glass is by the surface.

As illustrated in the previous section, the increase in the ZnO/B2O3 ratio resulted in accelerating the precipitation of ZnO-richphases. To determine the glass stability against crystallization onheating, the Hurby parameter Kgl is used which is defined by:

Kgl ¼ ðTc � TgÞ=ðTm � TcÞ ð1Þ

Fig. 4. XRD patterns of glasses heat treated at their corresponding peak crystal-lization temperatures for 0.5 h (w: willemite, z: zinc oxide).

where Tc, Tg and Tm are temperatures of crystallization (on heating),glass transition and melting, respectively. The larger is the Kgl, thehigher is the glass stability [9]. Melting occurred at an identicaltemperature (Tm = 900 �C) for the four glass samples. Upon gradualincrement of the ZnO/B2O3 ratio, Tg increased from 580 �C to 615 �Cdue to the decrease in B2O3 content. Meanwhile Tc decreased from775 �C to 765 �C. Therefore, Kgl parameters calculated for glass sam-ples and presented in Table 1, decreased from G0 to G3. This revealsthat crystallization of willemite and zinc oxide has been facilitatedupon substituting ZnO for B2O3. Because Zn2+ ions are much largerthan B ions and the replacement of B by Zn results in the long ordernetwork disruption. Moreover, this agrees with the IR and Ramaninvestigations on ZnO–BaO–B2O3 glasses carried out by LongfeiZhou et al. which proved that upon increasing the amount of ZnO,the structural [BO4] units transform to [BO3] units and at the sametime, diborate groups gradually change into ring-type metaborate,pyro- and ortho-borate groups resulting in the weakening of the bo-rate glass network [10].

UV absorption of oxide glasses is predominantly attributed tothe excitation of electrons of oxygen ions bonded with glass formercations. The electrons of weakly bonded nonbridging oxygens(NBOs) are excited more easily compared to those of stronglybonded oxygens (BOs) and thus they are more prone to absorbthe energy generated from UV emission after excitation [1]. Opticalbasicity, a chemical parameter based on the ionic nature of oxides,provides a measurement of the NBOs present in the glass [11].

For a glass composed of oxides AO, BO, . . ., the theoretical opti-cal basicity Kth is given by the following relation:

Kth ¼ xðAOÞ=cA þ xðBOÞ=cB þ . . . ð2Þ

where x(AO), x(BO), . . . are the equivalent molar fraction of oxidesand cA, cB, . . . are the basicity moderating parameters of oxides A,B, . . ., respectively [12], c is calculated through the followingequation:

cc ¼ 1:36ðxm � 0:26Þ ð3Þ

where xm is the electronegativity of the metal ions [13]. Thus,cZn = 1.87, cSi = 2.08 and cB = 2.36. Kth for each glass sample is cal-culated and given in Table 1. From this table it is seen that upongradual substituting ZnO for B2O3, optical basicity increases slightlywhich means an increase in the number of nonbridging oxygens. Asa result, a significant proportion of the near band edge emission isabsorbed by the NBOs. Therefore, it is seen from Fig. 7 that UV emis-sion band of glasses with higher ZnO/B2O3 ratio is weaker than thatof G0. It is worth noting that glass samples heat treated at 610 �Cpreserved their amorphous structure. That is why the effect of theincrease in the number of the NBOs on PL emission decrement issuch obvious in Fig. 7 whereas in Figs. 8 and 9 the effect occurredinversely due probably to the precipitation of sufficient crystallinephases in the samples after heat treating at crystallization temper-ature. In other words, these crystals compensated for the NBO in-crease from G0 to G3. Admittedly, willemite and ZnO crystals areregarded as major sources of UV emission after excitation in ZnO-based glasses according to a study on ZnO–SiO2–BaO glass systemconducted by Qian et al. [9,14,15]. XRD patterns (Figs. 3 and 4) im-plied that precipitation of willemite and zinc oxide was facilitatedfrom G0 to G3. On the other hand, PL spectra of the samples (Figs. 8and 9) heat treated at their crystallization temperatures implied anincrease in intensity from G0 to G3. Therefore, the suggestion is notwithout foundation that willemite and zinc oxide crystals areresponsible for the near band edge emission in the present glass.

Another effect caused by increasing the NBOs is the slight shiftof the emission band toward the visible region from G0 to G3. Be-cause emission bands at larger emission wavelengths are predom-inantly related to the excitation of valance electrons of weakly

Page 4: Preparation, phase formation and photoluminescence ...In this work, 60–63 mol ZnO was added to borosilicate glass compositions ranging from 25SiO 2–15B 2O 3 to 25SiO 2–12B 2O

Fig. 5. Micrographs of glass specimens heat treated at their corresponding peak crystallization temperatures for 0.5 or 3 h.

Z. Khalkhali et al. / Optical Materials 34 (2012) 850–855 853

bonded NBOs and those emitted at lower wavelengths are assignedto strongly bonded BOs [16].

Back to the ZnO powder emission spectrum depicted in theintroduction section, a wide visible emission band at 500–530 nm originated by structural defects is eliminated in our stud-ied glasses (Figs. 7–9). This is a result of embedding ZnO particlesin a glass matrix which reduces structural defects such as oxygenvacancies [16]. Oxygen vacancies as a prominent defect in ZnO par-ticles provide shallow donor levels at approx 0.3–0.5 eV fromwhich photogenerated electrons are transmitted to the valanceband edge at 2.87–3.07 eV range which result in the wide emissionband over the visible region [16]. As both UV and visible emissionprocesses compete with each other, this elimination of the widevisible emission band, results in an increase in the intensity andwidth of the near band edge emission. Therefore, NBE band

emerged significantly in the PL spectra of all samples includingthose with amorf structure. In other words, the elimination of oxy-gen vacancies due to embedding ZnO in a glass matrix resulted inthe UV band emission even in those samples lacking in willemiteand ZnO crystals.

On the other hand, the PL emission bands of the samples indi-cated a slight shift toward visible region upon gradual incrementof the ZnO/B2O3 ratio. This could also be attributed to the increasein the amount of NBOs with increasing the ZnO/B2O3 ratio. Becauseemission bands at larger excitation wavelengths are predomi-nantly related to the excitation of valance electrons of weaklybonded NBOs and those emitted at lower wavelengths are assignedto strongly bonded BOs [16]. Another origin for the blue shift mightbe assigned to the difference between the electronegativity of Znand B. As B is more electronegative than Zn (i.e., XB = 2.0 and

Page 5: Preparation, phase formation and photoluminescence ...In this work, 60–63 mol ZnO was added to borosilicate glass compositions ranging from 25SiO 2–15B 2O 3 to 25SiO 2–12B 2O

Fig. 6. EDX analysis of the pointed aggregate in Fig. 5.

Fig. 7. Photoluminescence spectra of the four samples excited at kexc = 262 nm afterheat treatment at 610 �C for 3 h.

Fig. 8. Photoluminescence spectra of the four samples excited at kexc = 262 nm afterheat treatment at peak crystallization temperature for 0.5 h.

Fig. 9. Photoluminescence spectra of the four samples excited at kexc = 262 nm afterheat treatment at peak crystallization temperature for 3 h.

Table 1Composition, Hurby parameter Kgl and optical basicity of the glass samples.

Samples Compounds (mol.%) Kgl Optical basicity (Kth) ± 0.001

G0 60ZnO25SiO215B2O3 1.52 0.501G1 61ZnO25SiO214B2O3 1.25 0.502G2 62ZnO25SiO213B2O3 1.19 0.503G3 63ZnO25SiO212B2O3 0.87 0.504

854 Z. Khalkhali et al. / Optical Materials 34 (2012) 850–855

XZn = 1.5) and acts as an acceptor carrier [6], substitution of B by Znleads to a decrease in the acceptor level concentration beneath theconduction band of ZnO particles and thereby increasing the ZnO/B2O3 ratio resulted in the shift to the visible region in PL emissionbands of the samples.

5. Conclusions

Four glasses in ZnO–SiO2–B2O3 ternary system with differentZnO/B2O3 ratios were prepared using melt quenching method tooptimize the glass composition in order to achieve intense PL emis-sion band over the UV region. Calculation of Hurby parameter Kgl

for each glass sample together with the XRD patterns showed thatnucleation and growth of crystalline phases such as willemite andzinc oxide is facilitated considerably by increasing the ZnO/B2O3

ratio.Elimination of the emission band over the visible region due to

embedding ZnO in a glass matrix was detected in all studied glasssamples which is approvable for scintillating materials. However,with increasing the ZnO/B2O3 ratio, PL emission band over theUV region decreased in intensity shifting slightly to the blue re-gion. One origin for the latter effect as discussed above is probablythe increment of nonbridging oxygens (NBOs) which absorb UVemission energy and make a shift toward the visible region withlarger emission wavelengths. Moreover, substitution of Zn for Bwhich decreased the number of acceptor levels resulted in thereduction of the NBE emission. In contrast, after heat treating thesamples at their crystallization temperatures, the intensity ofNBE band increased from G0 to G3 which proved the responsibilityof willemite and zinc oxide crystals for the PL emission band overthe UV region.

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