GRAPHENE BASED FLEXIBLE GAS SENSORS
Graphene is a novel carbon material with great promise for a range of applications due to its electronic and mechanical properties. Its two-dimensional nature translates to a high sensitivity to surface chemical interactions thereby making it an ideal platform for sensors. Graphene's electronic properties are not degraded due to mechanical flexing or strain (Kim, K. S., et al. nature 07719, 2009) offering another advantage for flexible sensors integrated into numerous systems including fabrics, etc.
We have demonstrated a graphene NO2 sensor on a solid substrate (100nm SiO2/heavily doped silicon). Three different methods were used to synthesize graphene and the sensor fabrication process was optimized accordingly. Water is used as a controllable p-type dopant in graphene to study the relationship between doping and graphene's response to NO2. Experimental results show that interface water between graphene and the supporting SiO2 substrate induces higher p-doping in graphene, leading to a higher sensitivity to NO2, consistent with theoretical predications (Zhang, Y. et al., Nanotechnology 20(2009) 185504).
We have also demonstrated a flexible and stretchable graphene-based sensor. Few layer graphene, grown on a Ni substrate, is etched and transferred to a highly stretchable polymer substrate (VHB from 3M) with preloaded stress, followed by metal contact formation to construct a flexible, stretchable sensor. With up to 500% deformation caused by compressive stress, graphene still shows stable electrical response to NO2. Our results suggest that higher compressive stress results in smaller sheet resistance and higher sensitivity to NO2.
A possible molecular detection sensor utilizing Surface Enhanced Raman Spectrum (SERS) based on a graphene/gallium nanoparticles platform is also studied. By correlating the enhancement of the graphene Raman modes with metal coverage, we propose that the Ga transfers electrons to the graphene creating local regions of enhanced electron concentration modifying the Raman scattering in graphene.
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