Gas sensors based on metal oxide semiconductors like tin dioxide are widely used for the detection of toxic and combustible gases like carbon monoxide, methane and LPG. One of the problems of such sensors is their lack of sensitivity, which to some extent, can be circumvented by using different catalysts. However, highly reactive volatile organic compounds (VOC) coming from different industrial and domestic products (e.g. paints, lacquers, varnishes etc) can play havoc on such sensors and can give rise to false alarms. Any attempt to adsorb such VOCs (e.g. by using activated charcoal) results in sorption of the detecting gases (e.g. methane) too. To get round the problem, bi-layer sensors have been developed. Such tin oxide based functionally gradient bi-layer sensors have different compositions at the top and bottom layers. Here, instead of adsorbing the VOCs, they are allowed to interact and are consumed on the top layer of the sensors and a combustible gas like methane being less reactive, penetrates the top layer and interacts with the bottom layer. By modifying the chemical compositions of the top and bottom layers and by designing the electrode-lead wire arrangement properly, the top layer can be kept electrically shunted from the bottom layer and the electrical signal generated at the bottom layer from the combustible gas is collected. Such functionally gradient sensors, being very reliable, can find applications in domestic, industrial and strategic sectors.
Volume 43, 2020
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