Atomic Layer Deposition of SnO2-Coated Anodic One-Dimensional TiO2 Nanotube Layers for Low Concentration NO2 Sensing

ACS Appl Mater Interfaces. 2020 Jul 22;12(29):33386-33396. doi: 10.1021/acsami.0c07791. Epub 2020 Jul 10.


The continuous emission of nitrous oxides contributes to the overall air pollution and deterioration of air quality. In particular, an effective NO2 sensor capable of low concentration detection for continuous monitoring is demanded for safety, health, and wellbeing. The sensing performance of a metal oxide-based sensor is predominantly influenced by the availability of surface area for O2 adsorption and desorption, efficient charge transport, and size or thickness of the sensing layer. In this study, we utilized anodic one-dimensional (1D) TiO2 nanotube layers of 5 μm thick which offer large surface area and unidirectional electron transport pathway as a platform to accommodate thin SnO2 coatings as a sensing layer. Conformal and homogeneous SnO2 coatings across the entire inner and outer TiO2 nanotubes were achieved by atomic layer deposition with a controlled thickness of 4, 8, and 16 nm. The SnO2-coated TiO2 nanotube layers attained a higher sensing response than a reference Figaro SnO2 sensor. Specifically, the 8 nm SnO2-coated TiO2 nanotube layer has recorded up to ten-fold enhancement in response as compared to the blank nanotubes for the detection of 1 ppm NO2 at an operating temperature of 300 °C with 0.5 V applied bias. This is attributed to the SnO2/TiO2 heterojunction effect and controlled SnO2 thickness within the range of the Debye length. We demonstrated in this work, a tailored large surface area platform based on 1D nanotubes with thin active coatings as an efficient approach for sensing applications and beyond.

Keywords: TiO2 nanotubes; atomic layer deposition; functional coatings; gas sensing; surface and interface.