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Mid-infrared Gas Sensing Using Graphene Plasmons Tuned by Reversible Chemical Doping

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journal contribution
posted on 25.03.2020, 11:37 by Nestor Jr. Bareza, Kavitha K. Gopalan, Rose Alani, Bruno Paulillo, Valerio Pruneri
Highly confined plasmon modes in nanostructured graphene can be used to detect tiny quantities of biological and gas molecules. In biosensing, a specific biomarker can be concentrated close to graphene, where the optical field is enhanced, by using an ad-hoc functional layer (e.g., antibodies). Inspired by this approach, in this paper we exploit the chemical and gas adsorption properties of an ultrathin polymer layer deposited on a nanostructured graphene surface to demonstrate a new gas sensing scheme. A proof-of-concept experiment using polyethylenimine (PEI) that is chemically reactive to CO2 molecules is presented. Upon CO2 adsorption, the sensor optical response changes because of PEI vibrational modes enhancement and shift in plasmon resonance, the latter related to polymer-induced doping of graphene. We show that the change in optical response is reversed during CO2 desorption. The demonstrated limit of detection (LOD) of 390 ppm corresponds to the lowest value detectable in ambient atmosphere, which can be lowered by operating in vacuum. By using specific adsorption polymers, the proposed sensing scheme can be easily extended to other relevant gases, for example, volatile organic compounds.