Resilient ZnO nanowires in an irradiation environment: An in situ study

C. Sun, B. P. Uberuaga, L. Yin, J. Li, Y. Chen, M. A. Kirk, M. Li, S. A. Maloy, H. Wang, C. Yu, X. Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


ZnO nanowires (NWs) have been extensively studied for various device applications. Although these nanowires are often suspected to be impractical and highly unstable under hostile radiation environments, to date little is known on their radiation tolerance. Here, we show outstanding resilience of ZnO NWs by using in situ Kr ion irradiation at room temperature inside a transmission electron microscope. Our studies show that ZnO nanowires with certain diameters become nearly immune to radiation damage due to the existence of dislocation loop denuded zones. A remarkable size effect also holds: the smaller the nanowire diameter, the lower the defect density. Rate theory modeling suggests that the size effect arises from fast interstitial migration and a limit in size to which interstitial loops can grow. In situ studies also revealed a surprising phenomenon: the pristine prismatic loops can prevail over the strongest known defect sinks, free surfaces, to trap radiation-induced defect clusters. This study comprises the first critical step toward in-depth understanding of radiation response of functional oxide nanowires for electronic device applications in extreme environments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)156-163
Number of pages8
JournalActa Materialia
StatePublished - Jun 4 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We acknowledge financial support by NSF-DMR-Metallic Materials and Nanostructures Program under Grant no. 1304101 . C.S. was supported by DOE-NEUP under contract no. DE-AC07-05ID14517-00088120 . B.P.U. acknowledges support by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Basic Energy Sciences, Materials Sciences and Engineering Division . Los Alamos National Laboratory, an affirmative action equal opportunity employer, is operated by Los Alamos National Security, LLC, for the National Nuclear Security Administration of the U.S. DOE under contract DE-AC52-06NA25396. The IVEM facility at Argonne National Laboratory is supported by DOE-Office of Nuclear Energy .

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Acta Materialia Inc. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


  • Defect denuded zone
  • Extreme environments
  • Radiation damage
  • ZnO nanowires

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