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Pure Appl. Chem., 2010, Vol. 82, No. 11, pp. 2055-2073

Published online 2010-08-06

Surface effects on optical and electrical properties of ZnO nanostructures

Cheng-Ying Chen, Ming-Wei Chen, Jr-Jian Ke, Chin-An Lin, José R. D. Retamal and Jr-Hau He*

Institute of Photonics and Optoelectronics and Department of Electrical Engineering, National Taiwan University, Taipei 10617, Taiwan

Abstract: This article presents a comprehensive review of the current research addressing the surface effects on physical properties and potential applications of nanostructured ZnO. Studies illustrating the transport, photoluminescence (PL), and photoconductivity properties of ZnO with ultrahigh surface-to-volume (S/V) ratio are reviewed first. Secondly, we examine recent studies of the applications of nanostructured ZnO employing the surface effect on gas/chemical sensing, relying on a change of conductivity via electron trapping and detrapping process at the surfaces of nanostructures. Finally, we comprehensively review the photovoltaic (PV) application of ZnO nanostructures. The ultrahigh S/V ratios of nanostructured devices suggest that studies on the synthesis and PV properties of various nanostructured ZnO for dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs) offer great potential for high efficiency and low-cost solar cell solutions. After surveying the current literature on the surface effects on nano-structured ZnO, we conclude this review with personal perspectives on a few surface-related issues that remain to be addressed before nanostructured ZnO devices can reach their ultimate potential as a new class of industrial applications.