1D versus 3D quantum confinement in 1-5 nm ZnO nanoparticle agglomerations for application in charge-trapping memory devices

Nazek El-Atab*, Ammar Nayfeh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


ZnO nanoparticles (NPs) have attracted considerable interest from industry and researchers due to their excellent properties with applications in optoelectronic devices, sunscreens, photocatalysts, sensors, biomedical sciences, etc. However, the agglomeration of NPs is considered to be a limiting factor since it can affect the desirable physical and electronic properties of the NPs. In this work, 1-5 nm ZnO NPs deposited by spin- and dip-coating techniques are studied. The electronic and physical properties of the resulting agglomerations of NPs are studied using UV-vis-NIR spectroscopy, atomic force microscopy (AFM), and transmission electron microscopy (TEM), and their application in metal-oxide-semiconductor (MOS) memory devices is analyzed. The results show that both dip- and spin-coating techniques lead to agglomerations of the NPs mostly in the horizontal direction. However, the width of the ZnO clusters is larger with dip-coating which leads to 1D quantum confinement, while the smaller ZnO clusters obtained by spin-coating enable 3D quantum confinement in ZnO. The ZnO NPs are used as the charge-trapping layer of a MOS-memory structure and the analysis of the high-frequency C-V measurements allow further understanding of the electronic properties of the ZnO agglomerations. A large memory window is achieved in both devices which confirms that ZnO NPs provide large charge-trapping density. In addition, ZnO confined in 3D allows for a larger memory window at lower operating voltages due to the Poole-Frenkel charge-emission mechanism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number275205
Issue number27
StatePublished - May 27 2016


  • Agglomerations
  • Charge-trapping memory
  • Endurance characteristic
  • Quantum confinement
  • ZnO nanoparticles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • General Chemistry
  • General Materials Science
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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