Search for Origin of Room Temperature Ferromagnetism Properties in Ni-Doped ZnO Nanostructure

The origin of room temperature (RT) ferromagnetism (FM) in Zn<sub>1–<i>x</i></sub>Ni<sub><i>x</i></sub>O (0< <i>x</i> < 0.125) samples are systematically investigated through physical, optical, and magnetic properties of nanostructure, prepared by simple low-temperature wet chemical method. Reitveld refinement of X-ray diffraction pattern displays an increase in lattice parameters with strain relaxation and contraction in Zn/O occupancy ratio by means of Ni-doping. Similarly, scanning electron microscope demonstrates modification in the morphology from nanorods to nanoflakes with Ni doping, suggests incorporation of Ni ions in ZnO. More interestingly, XANES (X-ray absorption near edge spectroscopy) measurements confirm that Ni is being incorporated in ZnO as Ni<sup>2+</sup>. EXAFS (extended X-ray absorption fine structure) analysis reveals that structural disorders near the Zn sites in the ZnO samples upsurges with increasing Ni concentration. Raman spectroscopy exhibits additional defect driven vibrational mode (at 275 cm<sup>–1</sup>), appeared only in Ni-doped samples and the shift with broadening in 580 cm<sup>–1</sup> peak, which manifests the presence of the oxygen vacancy (V<sub>O</sub>) related defects. Moreover, in photoluminescence (PL) spectra, we have observed a peak at 524 nm, indicating the presence of singly ionized V<sub>O</sub><sup>+</sup>, which may be activating bound magnetic polarons (BMPs) in dilute magnetic semiconductors (DMSs). Magnetization measurements indicate weak ferromagnetism at RT, which rises with increasing Ni concentration. It is therefore proposed that the effect of the Ni ions as well as the inherent exchange interactions arising from V<sub>O</sub><sup>+</sup> assist to produce BMPs, which are accountable for the RT-FM in Zn<sub>1–<i>x</i></sub>Ni<sub><i>x</i></sub>O (0< <i>x</i> < 0.125) system.