Morphological and optical characteristics of radio frequency-sputtered zinc aluminum oxide over porous silicon (PS) substrates were studied before and after irradiating composite films with 130MeV of nickel ions at different fluences varying from 1×1012 to 3×1013 ions/cm2. The effect of irradiation on the composite structure was investigated by scanning electron microscopy, X-ray diffraction (XRD), photoluminescence (PL), and cathodoluminescence spectroscopy. Current–voltage characteristics of ZnO-PS heterojunctions were also measured. As compared to the granular crystallites of zinc oxide layer, Al-doped zinc oxide (ZnO) layer showed a flaky structure. The PL spectrum of the pristine composite structure consists of the emission from the ZnO layer as well as the near-infrared emission from the PS substrate. Due to an increase in the number of deep-level defects, possibly oxygen vacancies after swift ion irradiation, PS-Al-doped ZnO nanocomposites formed with high-porosity PS are shown to demonstrate a broadening in the PL emission band, leading to the white light emission. The broadening effect is found to increase with an increase in the ion fluence and porosity. XRD study revealed the relative resistance of the film against the irradiation, i.e., the irradiation of the structure failed to completely amorphize the structure, suggesting its possible application in optoelectronics and sensing applications under harsh radiation conditions.
Keywords: Porous silicon, Zinc aluminum oxide, Swift heavy ions, Photoluminescence, Cathodoluminescence.