Comparison of the thermal decomposition processes of several aminoalcohol-based ZnO inks with one containing ethanolamine

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Four inks for the production of ZnO semiconducting films have been prepared with zinc acetate dihydrate as precursor salt and one among the following aminoalcohols: aminopropanol (APr), aminomethyl butanol (AMB), aminophenol (APh) and aminobenzyl alcohol (AB) as stabilizing agent. Their thermal decomposition process has been analyzed in situ by thermogravimetric analysis (TGA), differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) and evolved gas analysis (EGA), whereas the solid product has been analysed ex-situ by X-ray diffraction (XRD) and infrared spectroscopy (IR). Although, except for the APh ink, crystalline ZnO is already obtained at 300 ºC, the films contain an organic residue that evolves at higher temperature in the form of a large variety of nitrogen-containing cyclic compounds. The results indicate that APr can be a better stabilizing agent than ethanolamine (EA). It gives larger ZnO crystal sizes with similar carbon content. However, a common drawback of all the amino stabilizers (EA included) is that nitrogen atoms have not been completely removed from the ZnO film at the highest temperature of our experiments (600 ºC) ​
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