- Growth of metal domains on semiconductor nanoparticles is known to enhance their photocatalytic properties. We prepared ZnO nanoparticles decorated with metallic Au domains through a new one-pot microwave-based strategy. The synthetic route utilized microwave-heating of a mixture of only three components: Zn(2+) salt, Au(SCN)4(-) which served as a precursor for metallic gold, and Tris base. The Tris molecules had a dual role in the process, both shaping the morphology of the ZnO particles, as well as constituting docking and nucleation sites for the Au(SCN)4(-) ions. The Au complex subsequently underwent spontaneous crystallization/reduction without co-addition of reducing or stabilizing agents, yielding Au nanoparticles attached to the ZnO surface. We show that the hybrid Au/ZnO nanoparticles exhibited enhanced photocatalytic properties compared to the plain ZnO nanoparticles. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.