Variable tunneling barriers in FEBID based PtC metal-matrix nanocomposites as a transducing element for humidity sensing.

Nanotechnology

PubMedID: 23818049

Kolb F, Schmoltner K, Huth M, Hohenau A, Krenn J, Klug A, List EJ, Plank H. Variable tunneling barriers in FEBID based PtC metal-matrix nanocomposites as a transducing element for humidity sensing. Nanotechnology. 2013;24(30):305501.
The development of simple gas sensing concepts is still of great interest for science and technology. The demands on an ideal device would be a single-step fabrication method providing a device which is sensitive, analyte-selective, quantitative, and reversible without special operating/reformation conditions such as high temperatures or special environments. In this study we demonstrate a new gas sensing concept based on a nanosized PtC metal-matrix system fabricated in a single step via focused electron beam induced deposition (FEBID). The sensors react selectively on polar H2O molecules quantitatively and reversibly without any special reformation conditions after detection events, whereas non-polar species (O2, CO2, N2) produce no response. The key elements are isolated Pt nanograins (2-3 nm) which are embedded in a dielectric carbon matrix. The electrical transport in such materials is based on tunneling effects in the correlated variable range hopping regime, where the dielectric carbon matrix screens the electric field between the particles, which governs the final conductivity. The specific change of these dielectric properties by the physisorption of polar gas molecules (H2O) can change the tunneling probability and thus the overall conductivity, allowing their application as a simple and straightforward sensing concept.