Zinc Oxide – Properties, Applications and the Future for ZnO

Zinc oxide is an inorganic compound with the formula ZnO. It is a white powder that is insoluble in water. ZnO is present in the Earth's crust as the mineral zincite. That being said, most ZnO used commercially is synthetic.

Zinc oxide is commonly found in medical ointments where it used to treat skin irritiations. In more recent times zinc oxide has transcended to use in semiconductors, concrete use, ceramic and glass compositions and even cigarette filters.

Basic Information

Basic properties of Zinc Oxide are tabulated as follows:

    CAS number 1314-13-2 Yes
    PubChem 14806
    ChemSpider 14122
    EC number 215-222-5
    ChEBI CHEBI:36560
    ChEMBL CHEMBL1201128
    RTECS number ZH4810000
    Molecular formula ZnO
    Molar mass 81.408 g/mol
    Appearance White solid
    Odor odorless
    Density 5.606 g/cm3
    Melting point 1975 °C (decomposes)
    Boiling point 2360 °C
    Solubility in water 0.16 mg/100 mL (30 °C)
    Band gap 3.3 eV (direct)
    Refractive index (nD) 2.0041
Related compounds
    Other anions Zinc sulfide
Zinc selenide
Zinc telluride
    Other cations Cadmium oxide
Mercury(II) oxide

Major Applications

It might come as a shock but over 50% of the Zinc Oxide used is in the rubber industry. ZnO along with stearic acid is used in the vulcanization of rubber to produce such things as tires, shoe soles, and even hockey pucks.

A very important use is that Zinc Oxide is widely used as the buffer layer in CIGS (Copper Indium Gallium Selenide) solar cells. Some current experiments are focusing on the effect of the thickness of ZnO on maximum power output for the cells.

Another main use in in concrete manufacture. The addition of Zinc Oxide aids the processing of concrete and also improves water resistance.

Zinc oxide also has antibacterial and deodorizing peroperties. For this reason it is employed in medical applications such as in baby powder and creams to treat conditions such as diaper rash, other skin irritations and even dandruff. Due to its reflective properties it is also used in sunblocks and can often be seen on the nose and lips of lifeguards at the beach.

Other Uses

Zinc oxide is also used in:

  • Cigarette Filters
  • Breakfast Cereals
  • Paint pigments
  • Paint coatings
  • Piezoelectricity (delivering alternating current by stretching and releasing zinc oxide nanowires)
  • Lazer diodes
  • Light emitting diodes (LEDs)
  • Spintronics

Future of Zinc Oxide

The future for high quality Zinc Oxide is certainly going to be fascinating. The potential advances for non-medicinal applications even surpass that of the current medicinal uses. Zinc Oxide Nanorod Sensors, Spintronics, and Piezoelectricity are all very promising fields and ones to keep an eye on in the not too distant future.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by AHP Materials.

For more information o this source, please visit AHP Materials.


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