Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors


Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > With carbon nanotubes, a path to flexible, low-cost sensors: Potential applications range from air-quality monitors to electronic skin

Flexible, high-performance gas sensors (left) were made by spraying a solution of carbon nanotubes (right) onto a plastic backing.

Credit: Uli Benz/TUM
Flexible, high-performance gas sensors (left) were made by spraying a solution of carbon nanotubes (right) onto a plastic backing.

Credit: Uli Benz/TUM

Abstract:
Researchers at the Technische Universitaet Muenchen (TUM) are showing the way toward low-cost, industrial-scale manufacturing of a new family of electronic devices. A leading example is a gas sensor that could be integrated into food packaging to gauge freshness, or into compact wireless air-quality monitors. New types of solar cells and flexible transistors are also in the works, as well as pressure and temperature sensors that could be built into electronic skin for robotic or bionic applications. All can be made with carbon nanotubes, sprayed like ink onto flexible plastic sheets or other substrates.

With carbon nanotubes, a path to flexible, low-cost sensors: Potential applications range from air-quality monitors to electronic skin

Munich, Germany | Posted on September 25th, 2013

Carbon nanotube-based gas sensors created at TUM offer a unique combination of characteristics that can't be matched by any of the alternative technologies. They rapidly detect and continuously respond to extremely small changes in the concentrations of gases including ammonia, carbon dioxide, and nitrogen oxide. They operate at room temperature and consume very little power. Furthermore, as the TUM researchers report in their latest papers, such devices can be fabricated on flexible backing materials through large-area, low-cost processes.

Thus it becomes realistic to envision plastic food wrap that incorporates flexible, disposable gas sensors, providing a more meaningful indicator of food freshness than the sell-by date. Measuring carbon dioxide, for example, can help predict the shelf life of meat. "Smart packaging" - assuming consumers find it acceptable and the devices' non-toxic nature can be demonstrated - could enhance food safety and might also vastly reduce the amount of food that is wasted. Used in a different setting, the same sort of gas sensor could make it less expensive and more practical to monitor indoor air quality in real time.

Not so easy - but "really simple"

Postdoctoral researcher Alaa Abdellah and colleagues at the TUM Institute for Nanoelectronics have demonstrated that high-performance gas sensors can be, in effect, sprayed onto flexible plastic substrates. With that, they may have opened the way to commercial viability for carbon nanotube-based sensors and their applications. "This really is simple, once you know how to do it," says Prof. Paolo Lugli, director of the institute.

The most basic building block for this technology is a single cylindrical molecule, a rolled-up sheet of carbon atoms that are linked in a honeycomb pattern. This so-called carbon nanotube could be likened to an unimaginably long garden hose: a hollow tube just a nanometer or so in diameter but perhaps millions of times as long as it is wide. Individual carbon nanotubes exhibit amazing and useful properties, but in this case the researchers are more interested in what can be done with them en masse.

Laid down in thin films, randomly oriented carbon nanotubes form conductive networks that can serve as electrodes; patterned and layered films can function as sensors or transistors. "In fact," Prof. Lugli explains, "the electrical resistivity of such films can be modulated by either an applied voltage (to provide a transistor action) or by the adsorption of gas molecules, which in turn is a signature of the gas concentration for sensor applications."

And as a basis for gas sensors in particular, carbon nanotubes combine advantages (and avoid shortcomings) of more established materials, such as polymer-based organic electronics and solid-state metal-oxide semiconductors. What has been lacking until now is a reliable, reproducible, low-cost fabrication method.

Spray deposition, supplemented if necessary by transfer printing, meets that need. An aqueous solution of carbon nanotubes looks like a bottle of black ink and can be handled in similar ways. Thus devices can be sprayed - from a computer-controlled robotic nozzle - onto virtually any kind of substrate, including large-area sheets of flexible plastic. There is no need for expensive clean-room facilities.

"To us it was important to develop an easily scalable technology platform for manufacturing large-area printed and flexible electronics based on organic semiconductors and nanomaterials," Dr. Abdellah says. "To that end, spray deposition forms the core of our processing technology."

Remaining technical challenges arise largely from application-specific requirements, such as the need for gas sensors to be selective as well as sensitive.

This research was partially supported by the German Research Foundation (DFG) through the Cluster of Excellence Nanosystems Initiative Munich (NIM), and by the Bavarian State Ministry for Science, Research and the Arts under the initiative Solar Technologies Go Hybrid.

Publications:

Fabrication of carbon nanotube thin films on flexible substrates by spray deposition and transfer printing. Ahmed Abdelhalim, Alaa Abdellah, Giuseppe Scarpa, Paolo Lugli. Carbon, Vol. 61, September 2013, 72-79. DOI: 10.1016/j.carbon.2013.04.069

Flexible carbon nanotube-based gas sensors fabricated by large-scale spray deposition. Alaa Abdellah, Zubair Ahmad, Philipp Köhler, Florin Loghin, Alexander Weise, Giuseppe Scarpa, Paolo Lugli. IEEE Sensors Journal, Vol. 13 Issue 10, October 2013, 4014-4021. DOI: 10.1109/JSEN.2013.2265775

Scalable spray deposition process for high performance carbon nanotube gas sensors. Alaa Abdellah, Ahmed Abdelhalim, Markus Horn, Giuseppe Scarpa, and Paolo Lugli. IEEE Transactions on Nanotechnology 12, 174-181, 2013. DOI: 10.1109/TNANO.2013.2238248

####

About Technische Universitaet Muenchen
Technische Universitaet Muenchen (TUM) is one of Europe's leading universities. It has roughly 500 professors, 9,000 academic and non-academic staff, and 32,000 students. It focuses on the engineering sciences, natural sciences, life sciences, medicine, and economic sciences. After winning numerous awards, it was selected as an "Excellence University" in 2006 and 2012 by the Science Council (Wissenschaftsrat) and the German Research Foundation (DFG). In both international and national rankings, TUM is rated as one of Germany's top universities and is dedicated to the ideal of a top-level research-oriented entrepreneurial university. The university's global presence includes offices in Beijing (China), Brussels (Belgium), Cairo (Egypt), Mumbai (India) and São Paulo (Brazil). The German Institute of Science and Technology (GIST - TUM Asia), founded in 2002 in Singapore, is the first research campus of a German university abroad.

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Patrick Regan

49-016-242-79876

Dr. Alaa Abdellah
Technische Universitaet Muenchen
Institute for Nanoelectronics
T: +49 89 289 25335

W: http://www.nano.ei.tum.de/

Prof. Paolo Lugli
Technische Universitaet Muenchen
Institute for Nanoelectronics
T: +49 89 289 25332

W: http://www.nano.ei.tum.de/

Copyright © Technische Universitaet Muenchen

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

Pixel-array quantum cascade detector paves the way for portable thermal imaging devices: Research team from TU-Wien Center for Micro- and Nanostructures have developed a new 'cooler' sensing instrument thereby increasing energy-efficiency and enhancing mobility for diagnostic tes July 28th, 2016

Dirty to drinkable: Engineers develop novel hybrid nanomaterials to transform water July 28th, 2016

Thomas Swan and NGI announce unique partnership July 28th, 2016

Penn team uses nanoparticles to break up plaque and prevent cavities July 28th, 2016

Thin films

Cambridge Advanced Imaging Centre praises support film consistency and quality from EM Resolutions July 5th, 2016

Novel capping strategy improves stability of perovskite nanocrystals: Study addresses instability issues with organometal-halide perovskites, a promising class of materials for solar cells, LEDs, and other applications June 13th, 2016

New nanomaterial offers promise in bendable, wearable electronic devices: Electroplated polymer makes transparent, highly conductive, ultrathin film June 13th, 2016

Perovskite solar cells surpass 20 percent efficiency: EPFL researchers are pushing the limits of perovskite solar cell performance by exploring the best way to grow these crystals June 13th, 2016

Nanotubes/Buckyballs/Fullerenes

Easier, faster, cheaper: A full-filling approach to making nanotubes of consistent quality: Approach opens a straightforward route for engineering the properties of single-wall carbon nanotubes July 19th, 2016

Sensing trouble: A new way to detect hidden damage in bridges, roads: University of Delaware engineers devise new method for monitoring structural health July 8th, 2016

Wireless, wearable toxic-gas detector: Inexpensive sensors could be worn by soldiers to detect hazardous chemical agents July 4th, 2016

Nanotubes' 'stuffing' as is: A scientist from the Lomonosov Moscow State University studied the types of carbon nanotubes' 'stuffing' June 2nd, 2016

Sensors

Ultrasensitive sensor using N-doped graphene July 26th, 2016

Integration of novel materials with silicon chips makes new 'smart' devices possible July 25th, 2016

Electron 'spin control' of levitated nanodiamonds could bring advances in sensors, quantum information processing July 20th, 2016

Easier, faster, cheaper: A full-filling approach to making nanotubes of consistent quality: Approach opens a straightforward route for engineering the properties of single-wall carbon nanotubes July 19th, 2016

Discoveries

Pixel-array quantum cascade detector paves the way for portable thermal imaging devices: Research team from TU-Wien Center for Micro- and Nanostructures have developed a new 'cooler' sensing instrument thereby increasing energy-efficiency and enhancing mobility for diagnostic tes July 28th, 2016

Dirty to drinkable: Engineers develop novel hybrid nanomaterials to transform water July 28th, 2016

Penn team uses nanoparticles to break up plaque and prevent cavities July 28th, 2016

Beating the heat a challenge at the nanoscale: Rice University scientists detect thermal boundary that hinders ultracold experiments July 28th, 2016

Announcements

Pixel-array quantum cascade detector paves the way for portable thermal imaging devices: Research team from TU-Wien Center for Micro- and Nanostructures have developed a new 'cooler' sensing instrument thereby increasing energy-efficiency and enhancing mobility for diagnostic tes July 28th, 2016

Dirty to drinkable: Engineers develop novel hybrid nanomaterials to transform water July 28th, 2016

Thomas Swan and NGI announce unique partnership July 28th, 2016

Penn team uses nanoparticles to break up plaque and prevent cavities July 28th, 2016

Food/Agriculture/Supplements

The NanoWizard® AFM from JPK is applied for interdisciplinary research at the University of South Australia for applications including smart wound healing and how plants can protect themselves from toxins July 26th, 2016

Graphene-infused packaging is a million times better at blocking moisture July 15th, 2016

The use of nanoparticles and bioremediation to decontaminate polluted soils June 14th, 2016

VentureLab nanotechnology startup wins TechConnect Innovation Award June 2nd, 2016

Environment

Dirty to drinkable: Engineers develop novel hybrid nanomaterials to transform water July 28th, 2016

A 'smart dress' for oil-degrading bacteria July 24th, 2016

News from Quorum: The College of New Jersey use the Quorum Cryo-SEM preparation system in a project to study ice crystals in high altitude clouds July 19th, 2016

Researchers improve catalyst efficiency for clean industries: Method reduces use of expensive platinum July 8th, 2016

Industrial

Dirty to drinkable: Engineers develop novel hybrid nanomaterials to transform water July 28th, 2016

Scientists move 1 step closer to creating an invisibility cloak July 15th, 2016

Yale researchers’ technology turns wasted heat into power June 27th, 2016

Industrial Nanotech, Inc. Signs Agreement With and Receives First Purchase Order from Major New Customer in China June 6th, 2016

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE




  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project







Car Brands
Buy website traffic