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Surface passivation of semiconducting oxides by self-assembled nanoparticles.

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Physiochemical interactions which occur at the surfaces of oxide materials can significantly impair their performance in many device applications. As a result, surface passivation of oxide materials has been attempted via several deposition methods and with a number of different inert materials. Here, we demonstrate a novel approach to passivate the surface of a versatile semiconducting oxide, zinc oxide (ZnO), evoking a self-assembly methodology. This is achieved via thermodynamic phase transformation, to passivate the surface of ZnO thin films with BeO nanoparticles. Our unique approach involves the use of Be(x)Zn(1-x)O (BZO) alloy as a starting material that ultimately yields the required coverage of secondary phase BeO nanoparticles, and prevents thermally-induced lattice dissociation and defect-mediated chemisorption, which are undesirable features observed at the surface of undoped ZnO. This approach to surface passivation will allow the use of semiconducting oxides in a variety of different electronic applications, while maintaining the inherent properties of the materials.

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