Zinc oxide

September 23, 2014
Image of Zinc oxide

Zinc oxide (ZnO) is a common inorganic compound with a large number of uses. It is insoluble in water but soluble in dilute acids and bases. Its melting point is extremely high—1975 ºC, where it also decomposes.

ZnO exists in two common crystalline forms: wurtzite and zincblende. The zincblende structure is shown here, but wurtzite is more stable under ambient conditions.

ZnO occurs in the mineral zincite, but most of the commercial product is made by the high-temperature oxidation of metallic zinc or zinc ores. It is used extensively in diverse industries such as rubber, ceramics, medicine, food, pigments, and coatings. It absorbs ultraviolet light and is probably an ingredient in the sunscreen you used this past summer.


MOTW update:
May 22, 2023

Zinc oxide (ZnO) is a widely used inorganic compound, with applications in pigments, ceramics, medicines, and sunscreens. In recent years, it has been used as a wide–band gap semiconductor for optical and electronic applications. This month, Unnikrishnan Manju and co-workers at the CSIR-Institute of Minerals and Materials Technology (Bhubaneswar) and the Academy of Scientific and Innovative Research (Ghaziabad, both in India) described the influence of pressure on the crystallinity, defect density, size, and morphology of ZnO nanoparticles and the effect of these factors on the particles’ optical properties.

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