Scalable hydrothermal synthesis of free-standing VO nanowires in the M1 phase.
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VO2 nanostructures derived from solution-phase methods are often plagued by broadened and relatively diminished metal-insulator transitions and adventitious doping due to imperfect control of stoichiometry. Here, we demonstrate a stepwise scalable hydrothermal and annealing route for obtaining VO2 nanowires exhibiting almost 4 orders of magnitude abrupt (within 1 C) metal-insulator transitions. The prepared nanowires have been characterized across their structural and electronic phase transitions using single-nanowire Raman microprobe analysis, ensemble differential scanning calorimetry, and single-nanowire electrical transport measurements. The electrical band gap is determined to be 600 meV and is consistent with the optical band gap of VO2, and the narrowness of differential scanning calorimetry profiles indicates homogeneity of stoichiometry. The preparation of high-quality free-standing nanowires exhibiting pronounced metal-insulator transitions by a solution-phase process allows for scalability, further solution-phase processing, incorporation within nanocomposites, and integration onto arbitrary substrates.