Nanometer sized whiskers (nanowires) offer a vehicle for the study of size-dependent phenomena. While quantum-size effects are commonly expected and easily predicted, size reduction also causes more atoms to be closer to the surface. Here we show that intensity relations of below-band-gap and band-edge luminescence in ZnO nanowires depend on the wire radius. Assuming a surface layer wherein the surface-recombination probability is 1 (surface-recombination approximation), we explain this size effect in terms of bulk-related to surface-related material-volume ratio that varies almost linearly with the radius. This relation supports a surface-recombination origin for the deep-level luminescence we observe. The weight of this surface-luminescence increases as the wire radius decreases at the expense of the band-edge emission. Using this model, we obtain a radius of 30 nm, below which in our wires surface-recombination prevails. More generally, our results suggest that in quantum-size nanowires, surface-recombination may entirely quench band-to-band recombination, presenting an efficient sink for charge carriers that unless deactivated may be detrimental for electronic devices.
|Journal||Physical Review B - Condensed Matter and Materials Physics|
|State||Published - 1 Jun 2004|