Synthesis of zinc oxide nanoparticles by a green process and the investigation of their physical properties
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Zinc oxide (ZnO) is a wide and direct semiconductor with a wurtzite crystal structure. Its multifunctionality as the ideal candidate in applications such as blue-UV light emitting diodes, transparent conducting oxide, selective gas sensor and efficient catalyst support among others, has attracted a significant interest worldwide. Nano-scaled ZnO has been synthesized in a plethora of shapes. A rich variety of physical and chemical methodologies have been used in the synthesis of undoped or doped ZnO. However, such methods either necessitate relatively high vacuum infrastructures, elevated temperatures, or the use of toxic reagents. The "green chemistry" synthesis of metal oxide nanoparticles which is based on using natural plant extract as an effective 'reducing agent' of metal precursor, has been reported to be a cleaner and environment-friendly alternative to the physical and chemical methods. The thesis is based on the synthesis and the main physical properties of pure ZnO nanoparticles synthesized by a completely green chemistry process using the natural extract of Aspalathus Linearis to bio-reduce the zinc acetate precursor. The obtained ZnO nanopowdered samples were annealed at different temperatures from 300 °C to 600 °C. The samples were characterized using Scanning Electron Microscopy, Energy Dispersive Spectroscopy, Transmission Electron Microscopy, X-ray Diffraction, Differential Scanning Calorimetry, Thermogravimetric Analysis and Fourier Transform Infrared. Highly pure quasi-spherical ZnO nanoparticles with an average crystallite size of 24.6 nm (at 300 °C), 27.2 nm (at 400 °C), 27.6 nm (at 500 °C), and 28.5 nm (at 600 °C) were found. The results also showed that the average crystallite size increased with an increase in annealing temperature. It was successfully demonstrated that the natural plant extract of Aspalathus Linearis can be used in the bio-reduction of zinc acetate dihydrate to prepare highly pure ZnO nanoparticles.