BiFeO3 and Ag nanoparticle-embedded BiFeO3 thin films were prepared on Pt/TiOx/SiO2/Si and MgO(100) substrates using colloidal silver and BiFeO3 metal-organic precursor solutions. Colloidal silver solution was prepared by a chemical reductive method using NaBH4 as a reductant. The prepared Ag nanoparticles exhibited characteristic optical absorption properties based on their surface plasmon resonance related to particle size. The synthesized BiFeO3 and Ag nanoparticle/BiFeO3 thin films demonstrated rapid on/off responses of photocurrent to visible light. The Ag nanoparticle-incorporated BiFeO3 film exhibited a 2-4-fold higher photocurrent than the BiFeO3 film. Optical and ferroelectric properties did not change markedly even when Ag nanoparticles were embedded in the BiFeO3 thin film within the quantities of this study. Furthermore, in the Ag nanoparticle/BiFeO3 composite structure, Ag nanoparticles were introduced in the near-metallic state with maintained their nanometer size. In the Ag nanoparticle-embedded BiFeO3 film, photoinduced charge separation and transport of photoexcited carriers were enhanced by the surface plasmon effect of nanosized Ag particles as well as the internal bias electric field existed in the narrow-bandgap BiFeO3 thin film.
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