Post-annealing treatment is a necessary process to create/eliminate/repair defects in self–assembly (SA) metal oxide by providing enough thermal energy to the O atoms to overcome the migration energy barrier in ZnO. The height of migration energy barrier is dependent on the depth from the surface, which is hard to be estimated by theoretical calculations, as well as the optical analyses. SA ZnO nanorods (ZNRs) have high surface-to-volume ratio to provide complete picture between the optical and surface properties obtained by photoluminescence (PL) and ultraviolet/X-ray photoemission spectroscopy (UPS/XPS), which is used to investigate the evolution of structure and chemical states of the surface layers to reveal mutual agreement on all observations in PL, XPS, and UPS. We demonstrate variation of the surface structure of SA-ZNRs by scanning over a range of annealing temperatures and time to regulate the structure variation of SA-ZNRs, and their optical analyses agrees well with PL, XPS and UPS, which indicates the dependence of migration energy barriers on the depth from the surface of ZNR. The results reveal the well ZNRs formed at 570 °C and the further oxidation process and the formation of hydroperoxide on the Zn-rich surface of ZNRs at 640 °C.
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