Fine control of carbon nanotubes-polyelectrolyte sensors sensitivity by electrostatic layer by layer assembly (eLbL) for the detection of volatile organic compounds (VOC)

Volatile organic compounds (VOC) sensors have recently extended their field of application to medical area as they are considered as biomarkers in anticipated diagnosis of diseases such as lung cancer by breath analysis. Conductive polymer nanocomposites (CPC) have already proved their interest to fabricate sensors for the design of electronic noses (e-noses) but, for the first time to our knowledge, the present study is showing that electrostatic layer by layer assembly (eLbL) is bringing an interesting input to tailor the sensitivity of carbon nanotubes (CNT)-polyelectrolyte sensors. By this technique transducers are progressively built in 3D alternating dipping into sodium deoxycholate (DOC)-stabilized SWNT and poly(diallyldimethyl-ammonium chloride) [PDDA] solutions, respectively anionic and cationic. The precise control of transducers thicknesses (between 5 and 40 nm) resulting from this process allows a fine tuning of multilayer films resistance (between 50 and 2 kOhms) and thus of their sensitivity to VOC. Interestingly the surfactant used to disperse CNT into water, DOC is also found to enhance CNT sensitivity to vapors so is it for the polyelectrolyte PDDA. Finally it is found that transducers with 16 bilayers of PDDA/DOC-CNT provide optimum chemo-resistive properties for the detection and discrimination of the eight vapors studied (chloroform, acetone, ethanol, water, toluene, dichloromethane, tetrahydrofuran and methanol).

Kumar, B., Y.T. Park, M. Castro, J.C. Grunlan, J.F. Feller


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