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Incorporating Nanostructures to Enhance the Performance of Semiconducting Metal

21 March 2013


Gwyn Evans

Detection of explosive materials used in homemade devices has become a heightened priority in recent years, prompting a large increase in related research. Developments have been made using semiconducting metal oxides gas sensors for the detection of explosive vapours, highlighting the advantages of the technology, such as low cost, good sensitivity and rapid response times to target explosives. However, there are obstacles to overcome that have so far limited practical applications in the security field. Firstly, materials currently used in gas sensors require a high operating temperature to achieve appropriate sensitivity to the target vapour. This requires a power source that is not suitable for a discreet or portable device. Secondly, the material may respond to a range of gases of varying concentrations, lacking the selectivity required to function as a specific detector.  Recent research suggests that incorporating nanostructures, such as carbon nanotubes or graphene oxide, with traditional gas sensing materials can reduce their operating temperature, thus improving suitability for practical use. An increase in sensitivity to trace gases found in homemade explosives has also been reported, along with an improved sensor recovery time. Research has shown that the addition of various zeolites to the sensing material produces a degree of selectivity towards certain gases. The project will build upon this research, fabricating hybrid gas sensing materials using nanostructures such as carbon nanotubes, zeolites, and graphene oxide