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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2017

Nanoscale insights into doping behavior, particle size and surface effects in trivalent metal doped SnO2

Cojocaru, Bogdan; Avram, Daniel; Kessler, Vadim; Parvulescu, Vasile; Seisenbaeva, Gulaim; Tiseanu, Carmen


Despite considerable research, the location of an aliovalent dopant into SnO2 nanoparticles is far to be clarified. The aim of the present study on trivalent lanthanide doped SnO2 is to differentiate between substitutional versus interstitial and surface versus bulk doping, delineate the bulk and surface defects induced by doping and establish an intrinsic dopant distribution. We evidence for the first time a complex distribution of intrinsic nature composed of substitutional isolated, substitutional associates with defects as well as surface centers. Such multi-modal distribution is revealed for Eu and Sm, while Pr, Tb and Dy appear to be distributed mostly on the SnO2 surface. Like the previously reported case of Eu, Sm displays a long-lived luminescence decaying in the hundreds of ms scale which is likely related to a selective interaction between the traps and the substitutional isolated center. Analyzing the time-gated luminescence, we conclude that the local lattice environment of the lattice Sn is not affected by the particle size, being remarkably similar in the similar to 2 and 20 nm particles. The photocatalytic measurements employed as a probe tool confirm the conclusions from the luminescence measurements concerning the nature of defects and the temperature induced migration of lanthanide dopants.

Published in

Scientific Reports
2017, Volume: 7, article number: 9598