American Chemical Society
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Toward Optimized Radial Modulation of the Space-Charge Region in One-Dimensional SnO2–NiO Core–Shell Nanowires for Hydrogen Sensing

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journal contribution
posted on 2020-01-13, 15:42 authored by Muhammad Hamid Raza, Navpreet Kaur, Elisabetta Comini, Nicola Pinna
The gas-sensing properties and mechanism and the role of the shell thickness of structurally well-defined SnO2/NiO heterostructures are studied. One-dimensional (1D) SnO2/NiO core–shell nanowires (CSNWs) were produced by a two-step process; single-crystalline SnO2-core nanowires (NWs) were synthesized by vapor–liquid–solid (VLS) deposition and then decorated with a polycrystalline NiO-shell layer by atomic layer deposition (ALD). The thickness of the NiO-shell layer was precisely controlled between 2 and 8.2 nm. The electrical conductance of the sensors was decreased many orders of magnitude with the NiO coating, suggesting that the conductivity of the sensors is dominated by Schottky barrier junctions across the n(core)–p(shell) interfaces. The gas-sensing response of pristine SnO2 NWs and SnO2/NiO CSNWs sensors with various thicknesses of the NiO-shell layers was investigated toward hydrogen at various temperatures. The response of the SnO2/NiO-X (X is the number of ALD cycles) CSNWs significantly depends on the thickness of the NiO-shell layer. The SnO2/NiO-100 sensor showed the best performance (NiO-shell thickness ca. 4.1 nm), where the radial modulation of the space-charge region is maximized. The sensing response of the SnO2/NiO-100 sensor was 114 for 500 ppm of hydrogen at 500 °C, which was about four times higher than the response of pristine SnO2 NWs. The sensing mechanism is mainly based on the formation of a p–n junction at the p-NiO-shell and the n-SnO2-core interface and the modulation of the hole-accumulation region in the NiO-shell layer. The remarkable performance of the SnO2/NiO CSNWs sensors toward hydrogen is attributed to the high surface to volume ratio of the 1D SnO2 core-NWs, the conformal NiO shell layer, and the optimized shell layer thickness radially modulating the space-charge regions.