Synthesis of Cu₂O/CuO Nanocrystals and Their Application to H₂S Sensing

Sensors (Basel). 2019 Jan 8;19(1):211. doi: 10.3390/s19010211.


Semiconducting metal oxide nanocrystals are an important class of materials that have versatile applications because of their useful properties and high stability. Here, we developed a simple route to synthesize nanocrystals (NCs) of copper oxides such as Cu₂O and CuO using a hot-soap method, and applied them to H₂S sensing. Cu₂O NCs were synthesized by simply heating a copper precursor in oleylamine in the presence of diol at 160 °C under an Ar flow. X-ray diffractometry (XRD), dynamic light scattering (DLS), and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) results indicated the formation of monodispersed Cu₂O NCs having approximately 5 nm in crystallite size and 12 nm in colloidal size. The conversion of the Cu₂O NCs to CuO NCs was undertaken by straightforward air oxidation at room temperature, as confirmed by XRD and UV-vis analyses. A thin film Cu₂O NC sensor fabricated by spin coating showed responses to H₂S in dilute concentrations (1⁻8 ppm) at 50⁻150 °C, but the stability was poor because of the formation of metallic Cu₂S in a H₂S atmosphere. We found that Pd loading improved the stability of the sensor response. The Pd-loaded Cu₂O NC sensor exhibited reproducible responses to H₂S at 200 °C. Based on the gas sensing mechanism, it is suggested that Pd loading facilitates the reaction of adsorbed oxygen with H₂S and suppresses the irreversible formation of Cu₂S.

Keywords: Cu2O; CuO; H2S; gas sensor; nanocrystal.