A combined ab initio and experimental study of lanthanides and/or transition metal doped oxides
Mulwa, Winfred Mueni
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Ab initio modelling techniques have produced a notable contribution in analysing semiconductor metal oxides properties by use of first principles. These techniques have transformed to a high level of accuracy, owing to the development in algorithms and improved computational ability. In the study of structural, electronic and optical properties of metal oxides, ab initio techniques have been used with a lot of success to illustrate these properties. Ab initio studies therefore can complement experimental findings or even provide reliable results on properties which have not yet been experimentally investigated. Properties which can be calculated with the use of density functional theory (DFT) include spectroscopic, energetic, electronic and geometric properties. In this combined experimental and ab initio work on metal oxides doped with transition metals, the used of local density approximation with the Hubbard U correlation to compute the structural, electronic and optical properties of ZnA12O4 and Cu2+:ZnA12O4 was used. The powders of doped and undoped ZnA12O4 were effectively synthesized by use of the sol-gel technique. The X-ray diffraction (XRD) pattern for ZnA12O4 displayed crystalline peaks corresponding to cubic structure and phase dissociation was not observed. It also showed negligible lattice distortion and a slight shift to higher angles with increase of Cu2+ percentage doping. Energy dispersive X-rays spectroscopy (EDS) confirmed pure samples of ZnA12O4 components. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) micrographs showed a uniform, well distributed and spherical morphology. The high resolution transmission electron microscopy (HRTEM) showed the influence of varying Cu2+ concentration on the particle agglomeration as well as on the crystallite sizes. The average crystallite sizes of ZnA12O4 powders almost remained constant with the increase of Cu2+ doping concentration. The lattice spacing approximated from selected area electron diffraction (SAED) was 0.242 nm corresponding to (311) lattice of ZnA12O4. Setting excitation at 283 nm, the photoluminescence (PL) emission peaks were at 388 nm, 425 nm and 480 nm in undoped ZnA12O4 which was due to oxygen vacancies while the peak at 586 nm was due to Cu2+ ions. Computationally, introduction of Cu2+ ions did not lead to significant lattice distortion and the PL emission peak was at 435 nm with a transition from Cu_3d to Cu_4p. The substitutional energies in Cu2+:ZnA12O4 predicted negative formation energies for oxygen vacancies suggesting that these vacancies are easily formed in ZnA12O4. The two point defects (oxygen vacancy and Cu2+ dopant) existed singly as the binding energies were found to be negative. Both experimental and computational work were carried out on lanthanide-doped metal oxide (ꝩ-A12O3 in this case). The powders of doped and undoped (ꝩ-A12O3 were successfully prepared using the sol-gel technique. The A12O3 as well as Ce3+: A12O3 were modelled where the Kohn- Sham equations were solved by the use of local density approximation with the Hubbard U correction. In ꝩ-A12O3:Ce3+, introduction of the dopant caused lattice strain as well as reduction in band gap. The formation energies in all the charge states were negative, suggesting that the ꝩ - A12O3 lattice could easily accommodate Ce3+. The PL emission peak was reported to be at 502 nm with a transition from O_2p to Ce_4f. The X-ray diffraction (XRD) pattern exhibited crystalline peaks corresponding to cubic structure. Due to difference in ionic radius between A13+ and Ce3+, lattice distortion was realized. As the doping concentration increased, there was a slight shift to lower angles. Only aluminium and oxygen elements were detected in the EDS analysis. SEM analysis revealed agglomeration on doping. From the HRTEM findings, the crystallite size of 16.0 nm was realized. The lattice spacing approximated from SAED was 0.138 nm corresponding to (440) lattice plane of -A12O3. With excitation at 240 nm, the PL emission peaks at 440 nm and 462 nm were due to oxygen vacancies while the peak at 560 nm was due to Ce3+ doping. This result shows that Ce3+ doping of -A12O3 improves its luminescence property therefore making it a possible candidate for blue light emitting diodes application. DFT work on both transition metal and lanthanide-doped metal oxides was investigated in undoped TiO2, lanthanides-doped TiO2 as well as transition metal (Cr3+) doped TiO2 by the use of local density approximation with the Hubbard U correlation to compute the substitutional energies, thermodynamic transition levels, optical properties and magnetic properties of Cr3+:TiO2 and lanthanide-doped TiO2. Unlike ZnAl2O4 and -A12O3, TiO2 was not experimentally synthesized but was modelled theoretically. Lanthanide doping was found to cause red shift of the band gap from the ultraviolet region to the visible region of the optical absorption spectra in TiO2. The value of the computed substitutional energy implied that lanthanide ions are easily incorporated in TiO2 crystal lattice. The most favorable doping percentage was anticipated to be approximately 3%. On doping TiO2 with chromium, a transition was observed from paramagnetism to ferromagnetism at 6% doping. The magnetic moment per chromium atom was 2.59 μB for rutile phase of TiO2 and 2.49 μB for anatase phase. This result makes Cr3+ doped TiO2 a possible candidate for application in memory devices.