Titania nanotubes at 200 nanometer size. Credit: Penn State, Craig Grimes
Titania nanotubes at 250 nanometer size. Credit: Penn State, Craig Grimes
Titania nanotubes are 1500 times better than the next best material for sensing hydrogen and may be one of the first examples of materials properties changing dramatically when crossing the border between real world sizes and nanoscopic dimensions, according to a Penn State materials scientist.
"Historically, we have viewed sensor technology and enhancements from the point of view of surface area," says Dr. Craig A. Grimes, associate professor of electrical engineering and materials science and engineering. "The principle in play in titania nanotubes is not surface area, but connectivity of the tiny tubes and we see an incredible change in electric resistance."
Hydrogen entering an array of titania nanotubes flows around all the surfaces, but it also splits into individually charged atoms and permeates the surface of the nanotubes. These hydrogen ions provide electrons for conductivity. The change in conductance signals that hydrogen, above the background level, is present.
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