TitleFabrication and characterization of p-type CuO / n-type ZnO heterostructure gas sensors prepared by sol-gel processing techniques
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsRavichandran, R
UniversityOregon State University
CityCorvallis, Or.
Thesis TypeM.S.

Increased interest in the field of sensor technology stems from the availability of an inexpensive and robust sensor to detect and quantify the presence of a specific gas. Bulk p-CuO/n-ZnO heterocontact based gas sensors have been shown to exhibit the necessary sensitivity and selectivity characteristics, however, low interfacial CuO/ZnO contact area and poor CuO/ZnO connectivity limits their effective use as gas sensors. The phase equilibria between CuO and ZnO exhibits limited solubility. By exploiting this concept, a CuO/ZnO mixed solution is formed by combining CuO and ZnO precursors using wet chemical (sol-gel) techniques. Thin films fabricated using this mixed solution exhibit a unique CuO/ZnO microstructure such that ZnO grains are surrounded by a network of CuO grains. This is highly beneficial in gas sensing applications since the CuO/ZnO heterostructure interfacial area is considerably increased and is expected to enhance sensing characteristics. This work builds on previous research by Dandeneau et al. (Thin film chemical sensors based on p-CuO/n-ZnO heterocontacts, Thin Solid Films, 2008). CuO/ZnO mixed solution thin films are fabricated using the sol-gel technique and subsequently characterized. X-ray diffraction (XRD) data confirms the phase separation between ZnO and CuO grains. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) as well as energy dispersive spectroscopy (EDS) reveal a network of ZnO grains amidst a matrix of CuO grains. Optical and electrical characterization provide material parameters used to construct an energy band diagram for the CuO/ZnO heterostructure. Aluminum interdigitated electrodes (IDEs) are patterned on the thin film and gas sensing characteristics in the presence of oxygen and hydrogen are investigated. Optimization of the electrode geometry is explored with the aim of increasing the sensitivity of the sensor in the presence of hydrogen gas.