The pulsed polarization technique on solid electrolytes is based on alternating potential pulses interrupted by self-discharge pauses. Since even small concentrations of nitrogen oxides (NOx) in the ppm range significantly change the polarization and discharge behavior, pulsed polarization sensors are well suited to measure low amounts of NOx. In contrast to all previous investigations, planar pulsed polarization sensors were built using an electrolyte thick film and platinum interdigital electrodes on alumina substrates. Two different sensor layouts were investigated, the first with buried Pt electrodes under the electrolyte and the second one with conventional overlying Pt electrodes. Electrolyte thick films were either formed by aerosol deposition or by screen-printing, therefore exhibiting a dense or porous microstructure, respectively. For screen-printed electrolytes, the influence of the electrolyte resistance on the NOx sensing ability was investigated as well. Sensors with buried electrodes showed little to no response even at higher NOx concentrations, in good agreement with the intended sensor mechanism. Electrolyte films with overlying electrodes, however, allowed the quantitative detection of NOx. In particular, aerosol deposited electrolytes exhibited high sensitivities with a sensor output signal ΔU of 50 mV and 75 mV for 3 ppm of NO and NO₂, respectively. For screen-printed electrolytes, a clear trend indicated a decrease in sensitivity with increased electrolyte resistance.
Keywords: OBD); Pt|YSZ system; aerosol deposition method (ADM); automotive exhaust gas sensor (on-board diagnostics; room temperature impact consolidation (RTIC); vacuum kinetic spraying.