It is shown that solution-grown ZnO nanostructures exhibit enhanced radiation hardness against neutron irradiation as compared to bulk material. The decrease of the cathodoluminescence intensity after irradiation at a neutron dose of 6 × 1016 cm−2 in ZnO nanostructure is nearly identical to that induced by a dose of 1.5 × 1014 cm−2 in bulk material. The damage introduced by irradiation is shown to change the nature of electronic transitions responsible for luminescence. The change of excitonic luminescence to the luminescence related to the tailing of the density of states caused by potential fluctuations occurs at an irradiation dose around 6×1016 cm−2 and 5×1014 cm−2 in nanostructured and bulk materials, respectively.
Hall measurements before and after annealing determined the effect of dose on resistance, mobility, and carrier concentration. Annealing decreased the sheet resistance, increased the mobility, and increased carrier concentration for all doses. While the concentration of carriers in the control sample increased 200-fold after annealing, the increase was ∼1000-fold for the irradiated samples. Annealed irradiated samples showed a maximum carrier concentration increase of about 60x over the unirradiated sample. Interestingly, neutron irradiation increased the mobility even in the un-annealed samples.