A new microwave approach for the synthesis of green emitting Mn2+-doped ZnAl2O4: A detailed study on its structural and optical properties

Samvit G. Menon*, Arup K. Kunti, Suresh D. Kulkarni, Raju Kumar, Mayank Jain, Dirk Poelman, Jonas J. Joos, Hendrik C. Swart*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


A simple recipe for synthesizing green emitting Mn2+-doped ZnAl2O4 phosphor has been developed. Metal-organic complexes, with their unique properties, were employed as precursors to obtain phase-pure, nanocrystalline material in the as-prepared form within just 5 min of microwave irradiation. The Mn2+ doping concentration that showed the highest photoluminescence (PL) intensity was optimized and a comprehensive investigation of the structural and optical properties were made for various annealing temperatures. Rietveld refinement of the samples annealed at 1200 °C and 1400 °C, showed that the cationic inversion in the spinel decreased from 3.4 to 2.1% and this change was validated by the X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy results. XPS confirmed that the inversion for Zn2+, Al3+, and Mn2+ cations decreased with annealing temperature, despite of which, inversion remained at 20%, 10%, and 15%, respectively for the sample annealed at 1400 °C, emphasizing the fact that synthesis plays an important role in controlling the amount of inversion in an otherwise normal spinel. Electron paramagnetic resonance spectra of the as-prepared and the samples annealed at high temperatures confirmed that the Mn2+ hyperfine spectrum was not just a function of the crystal field environment but also strongly depends on the doping concentration. The PL spectrum taken at different annealing temperatures, comprised of the characteristic 4T1 (G) → 6A1 (S) spin-forbidden Mn2+ transitions, showed that the emission intensity depends on the material crystallinity. The sample annealed at 1400 °C displayed a significantly higher PL intensity compared to those annealed at lower temperatures. The variation of PL spectrum of this sample was investigated between 9 K and 300 K to determine the origins of the asymmetry at room temperature and the vibrational sidebands at lower temperatures. The energy levels of the Mn2+ dopant, calculated theoretically and verified experimentally, were used to determine the spectroscopic parameters such as the Racah B and C values and the crystal field energy, Dq. These values showed that the Mn2+ was in a weak tetrahedral field. This work demonstrates a technologically important, green, and swift technique in synthesizing phosphors for various applications in displays, bioimaging, solid state lighting, etc.
Original languageEnglish
Article number117482
JournalJournal of Luminescence
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2020


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