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Characterization of Infrared Chemical Sensors Modified with ZnO Nanowires for the Detection of Volatile Organic Compounds

Volume 59, Number 8 (Aug. 2005) Page 1002-1008

Yang, Jyisy; Shih, Yu-Ru; Chen, I-Cherng; Kuo, Chung-I; Huang, Yih-Shiaw

In this paper we describe the application and characterization of zinc oxide (ZnO) nanowires in an infrared (IR) chemical sensing system for the detection of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Under suitable conditions, we grew ZnO nanowires on the surfaces of IR internal reflection elements (IREs) and obtained successful results for the detection of VOCs. ZnO nanowires offer a large surface area to effectively adsorb the examined species; the sensitivity of these IR sensing systems was increased by 3- to 15-fold after surface treatment with the ZnO nanowires. To explore the performance of this type of sensor, we correlated the morphologies of the ZnO nanowires grown on the surfaces of the IREs with the adsorption behavior observed during the sensing of the VOCs. To characterize the properties of the ZnO nanowires during the detection of VOCs having a range of functionalities, we classified the VOCs and examined their enrichment factors by comparing the IR signals detected in the presence and absence of the ZnO nanowires. Our results indicate that the ZnO nanowires exhibited better performance for the detection of aromatic-type VOCs than they did for non-aromatic compounds. For quantitative analyses, we examined several compounds for their responses toward varying quantities of injected VOCs. Our results indicate that the IREs treated with ZnO nanowires display acceptable linearity in their standard curves; the linear regression coefficients were higher than 0.995 for a range of volatile compounds.