Electrical Properties of Nanocrystalline WO3 for Gas Sensing Applications

University dissertation from Uppsala : Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis

Abstract: Tungsten trioxide is a material with a variety of application areas. For example, the material is used within thin film technologies as electrochromic material in smart windows, as electrochemically functional material in thermal control applications or as active layer in gas sensing application. Metal-oxide semiconductor gas sensors are of significant interest to detect toxic and hazardous gases. The use of small and cheep sensors is preferable since a large number of sensors easily can be placed at different sites to monitor the concentration of different species without involving huge investments.In this work, WO3 nanoparticle films were produced using an advanced gas deposition unit for gas sensing applications. The structure of the WO3 nanoparticle films was determined using X-ray diffraction, neutron scattering, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, elastic recoil detection analysis and electron microscopy. The as deposited films consist of sub-stoichiometric WO3 and exhibit a large degree of porosity, which together with the small particle size of about 5 nm results in a large surface area and therefore excellent prospects for gas sensor applications. Investigations on the optical properties and temperature dependence of the resistance indicate hopping conduction in the WO3 films. The bandgaps for tetragonal and monoclinic WO3 were found to be direct, which is in accordance with band structure calculations.Sensor properties were investigated using resistance measurements upon test gas exposures. The experiments were performed at fixed operating temperatures as well as on temperature modulated sensors. The films of WO3 showed excellent sensitivity to H2S gas and selectivity to other gases. The responses of temperature modulated sensors were further analyzed using mathematical transformations and pattern recognition methods whereby different gases could be distinguished.We also present a sensing technique using conduction noise as a tool for detection of alcohol vapor. The relative change of the noise, due to the inserted alcohol, can be as large as two orders of magnitude.