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Highly sensitive NO2
sensors by pulsed laser deposition on graphene
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Graphene as a single-atomic-layer material is fully exposed to environmental factors and has therefore a great potential for the creation of sensitive gas sensors. However, in order to realize this potential for different polluting gases, graphene has to be functionalized—adsorption centers of different types and with high affinity to target gases have to be created at its surface. In the present work, the modification of graphene by small amounts of laser-ablated materials is introduced for this purpose as a versatile and precise tool. The approach has been demonstrated with two very different materials chosen for pulsed laser deposition (PLD)—a metal (Ag) and a dielectric oxide (ZrO2). It was shown that the gas response and its recovery rate can be significantly enhanced by choosing the PLD target material and deposition conditions. The response to NO2 gas in air was amplified up to 40 times in the case of PLD-modified graphene, in comparison with pristine graphene, and it reached 7%–8% at 40 ppb of NO2 and 20%–30% at 1 ppm of NO2. The PLD process was conducted in a background gas (5 × 10−2 mbar oxygen or nitrogen) and resulted in the atomic areal densities of the deposited materials of about 1015 cm−2. The ultimate level of NO2 detection in air, as extrapolated from the experimental data obtained at room temperature under mild ultraviolet excitation, was below 1 ppb.
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