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We report the unusual growth of pure and Fe-doped ZnO nanoparticles prepared by forced hydrolysis and the weakening of ferromagnetism due to aging in ambient conditions. More than four dozen nanoparticle samples in the size range of 4–20 nm were studied over 1 to 4 years. The as-prepared samples had significant changes in their crystallite sizes and magnetization as they aged in ambient conditions. Detailed studies using x ray diffraction and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) demonstrated that the crystallite size increased by as much as 1.4 times. Lattice parameters and strain also showed interesting changes. Magnetometry studies of Zn1−xFexO with x = 0–0.2 showed ferromagnetism at room temperature; however, keeping the samples in ambient conditions for one year resulted in modifications in the crystallite size and magnetization. For the Zn0.95Fe0.05O sample, the size changed from 7.9 nm to 9.0 nm, while the magnetization decreased from 1×10–3emu/g (memu/g) to 0.2 memu/g. Both magnetic and structural changes due to aging varied with the environment in which they were stored, indicating that these changes are related to the aging conditions.

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Copyright 2012 American Institute of Physics. This article may be downloaded for personal use only. Any other use requires prior permission of the author and the American Institute of Physics. The following article appeared in Journal of Applied Physics 111(7) and may be found at: DOI: 10.1063/1.3679147.

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