In the present work, tracing and Whatman papers were used as substrates to grow zinc oxide (ZnO) nanostructures. Cellulose-based substrates are cost-efficient, highly sensitive and environmentally friendly. ZnO nanostructures with hexagonal structure were synthesized by hydrothermal under microwave irradiation using an ultrafast approach, that is, a fixed synthesis time of 10 min. The effect of synthesis temperature on ZnO nanostructures was investigated from 70 to 130 °C. An Ultra Violet (UV)/Ozone treatment directly to the ZnO seed layer prior to microwave assisted synthesis revealed expressive differences regarding formation of the ZnO nanostructures. Structural characterization of the microwave synthesized materials was carried out by scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and X-ray diffraction (XRD). The optical characterization has also been performed. The time resolved photocurrent of the devices in response to the UV turn on/off was investigated and it has been observed that the ZnO nanorod arrays grown on Whatman paper substrate present a responsivity 3 times superior than the ones grown on tracing paper. By using ZnO nanorods, the surface area-to-volume ratio will increase and will improve the sensor sensibility, making these types of materials good candidates for low cost and disposable UV sensors. The sensors were exposed to bending tests, proving their high stability, flexibility and adaptability to different surfaces.
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