We demonstrate that oxygen vacancies (VO) produced by aliovalent (Ca2+) doping in BiFeO3 (BCFO) and associated structural changes due to VO ordering result in systematic alteration of the bandgap (Eg) over a wide range from 1.5 eV to 2.3 eV. By contrast, the change in the bandgap of a Ca2+ and Ti4+ co-doped BiFeO3 (BCFTO) system, wherein the VO formation is suppressed, is negligible. These contrastive results strongly confirm the role of oxygen vacancies in altering the bandgap of BCFO.
Irrespective of doping, microstrain, which is found to be large (0.3 to 1.2%) below a critical size (dc ~ 60 nm) also produces a small, yet linear change in the bandgap (Eg from 2.0 to 2.3 eV). The cubic phase stabilizes gradually in BCFO for x > 0.1 through an orthorhombic phase (for 0.05 < x < 0.1), whereas it directly transforms for x > 0.1 in BCFTO. This change in BCFO at 300 K suggests a high-pressure-like (or high-temperature-like) effect of the oxygen vacancies and dopants on the structure.
Systematic variations in the relative intensities and peak positions of Fe d–d transitions in BCFO reveal the local changes in Fe–O–Fe coordination. These results along with XANES and HRTEM studies substantiate the observed structural changes.
Mocherla, P.S., Gautam, S., Chae, K.H., Rao, M.R. and Sudakar, C., 2015. Wide-range tunable bandgap in Bi1− xCaxFe1− yTiyO3− δ nanoparticles via oxygen vacancy induced structural modulations at room temperature. Materials Research Express, 2(9), p.095012.
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