Hybrid nanocrystals (HNCs), based on ZnO nanorods (NRs) decorated with magnetic Fe-based domains, were synthesized via a colloidal seeded-growth method. The approach involved heterogeneous nucleation of Fe nanocrystals on size-tailored ZnO nanorod seeds in a noncoordinating solvent, followed by partial surface oxidation of the former to the corresponding Fe@FexOy core@shell domains. HNCs with variable population and size of the Fe-based nanodomains could be synthesized depending on the surface reactivity of the ZnO seeds. The structure–property relationships in these HNCs were carefully studied. In HNCs characterized by a large number of small Fe@FexOy core@shell nanodomains on the ZnO seed surface, the interfacial communication across the Fe-core and FexOy-shell generated a sizable exchange-bias effect mediated by frozen interfacial spins. On the other hand, in HNCs carrying a lower density of comparatively larger Fe@FexOy domains, partial removal of the Fe-core created an inner void in between that led to suppressed exchange coupling anisotropy. As a further proof of functionality, the HNCs exhibited pronounced band-edge ultraviolet fluorescence. The latter was blue-shifted compared to the parent ZnO NRs, inferring coupling of the semiconductor and magnet sections.
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