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A highly efficient nanosensor for the detection of methane was fabricated in the Research Laboratory for Nanotechnology of Mashhad's Ferdowsi University.
"During recent years, the consumption of methane as the main constituent of natural gas has risen to a considerable amount and accordingly the number of reports on gas explosion accidents have increased. As a result, automatic vent detection prior to explosion concentration levels seems vital," Zahra Sheikhi, member of the research group, explained.
"Nanometric semiconductors seem to be suitable for synthesis of such sensors. Due to an interaction between the solid surface and the gas, layer resistance varies and this effect can be exploited for building a sensor. Recent researches have been focused on various oxides of cobalt as they exhibit better sensory properties. We have used Co3O4 which is the most powerful catalyst for methane oxidation in fabrication of the sensor," she added.
Summarizing the synthesis procedure, Sheikhi said, "As the initial step, we prepared nano powders and thin layers of cobalt and copper oxides via sol-gel and spray pyrolysis. The powders were pressed into tablets and afterwards, electrodes were put inside the samples. Finally, the sensitivity of the sensors in presence of methane at different temperatures was studied."
The results of this research reveal that the sensitivity of the sensors increases with temperature and methane concentration. Also, a considerable improvement in sensitivity was encountered in case with introducing some impurities to the nano powders. The best sensitivity corresponded to the highest use of copper ingredient. Quite the reverse was observed for thin layer samples.
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