A careful study of the phosphorescence afterglow and the thermoluminescence (TL) of sol-gel-prepared m-ZrO2 nanocrystalline powders in an extended temperature range −100 to 300 °C was carried out. Wavelength-resolved TL proved the existence of a single active luminescence centre in this temperature range. A TL method based on various heating rates was used to derive more reliable trap depths of 0.75, 0.95, 1.25, 1.46 and 1.66 eV whereas deconvolution methods provided somewhat lower values. The most intense room-temperature afterglows (that were easily observable beyond 1000 s) were obtained from samples annealed at 1250 and 1500 °C, and were attributed mainly to depopulation of the 1.25 eV traps.
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