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PhD Thesis, Laura Parellada

Laura Parellada

Laura Parellada

Title: Laser-nanostructured metal oxide semiconductors for conductometric gas sensors

Defense Date: 29/03/2019

Director: Gemma García Mandayo

Abstract

Nanostructured materials present different physical properties in comparison to their bulk counterparts and the integration of this type of materials in conventional devices, such as gas sensors, can improve some of their characteristics such as sensitivity, selectivity and response. These enhanced features are important for the development of reliable gas sensors. In particular, nanostructuration of semiconductor metal oxides has been widely researched to be applied in conductometric gas sensors.

The two major drawbacks of most nanostructuring techniques are the low velocity of the process, not scalable for mass production and the need to transfer the nanostructures to the sensing device (ex-situ approaches). Hence, the present work studies the gas sensing performance of semiconductors nanostructured by two top-down techniques that are fast, inexpensive, in-situ process and automatable: direct laser interference patterning (DLIP) and femtosecond laser subwavelength patterning.

The DLIP is a non-contact technique that uses the interference patterns generated by two or more coherent laser beams to directly structure materials. On the other hand, femtosecond laser subwavelength patterning generates laser-induced periodic structures (LIPSS) when linearly polarized radiation interacts with a solid.

This work focuses on the detection of NO2, since it is one of the most common pollutants, and needs to be detected in very low concentrations. In fact, the recommendation from the Scientific Committee on Occupational Exposure Limits for Nitrogen Dioxide of the European Commission establishes 0.5 ppm as the 8-hour TWA .

In particular, this thesis gathers the study of three different type of laser nanostru ctured semiconductor gas sensors for the detection of low concentration of NO2: ZnO based sensors processed by DLIP, ZnO based sensors nanostructured with LIPSS and WO3 based sensors processed by DLIP. In all the approaches, a response improvement has been obtained by the nanostructured sensors compared with classically annealed devices, pointing out the laser technologies potential.

Furthermore, the study of the operating conditions influence (flow and position of the sensor inside the chamber) on the sensors performance is investigated comparing experimental results with gas flow simulations. Finally, the integration of the fabricated sensors into a wireless platform is included in this dissertation.

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