Sol–gel synthesized SnO2 nanoparticles with an average size of 2.0 nm obtained at 373 K were gradually annealed to 673 K in air for 25 minutes. Sequentially taken transmission electron microscopy (TEM) images showed that particle agglomeration of these non-matrix SnO2 nanocrystals was a very slow process. The blue shifts of the band gap (∼ 2.3 eV) obtained from the optical absorbance spectra were matched with the theoretical results of the size related excitonic binding energies. These calculations also supported the observed slow grain growth. The depth sensitive hardness measurements of the thin films indicated hardness in the range of 5.03 GPa to 6.79 GPa. These undoped and non-matrix SnO2 nanoparticles were also investigated with the X-ray photoelectrons spectroscopy (XPS), atomic force microscope (AFM), X-ray diffraction spectroscopy (XRD), and ac impedance analyzer.
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