Nanotech 2010

Chemo-resistive Si:WO3 sensors for selective detection of acetone

M. Righettoni, A. Tricoli, S.E. Pratsinis
Particle Technology Laboratory, Institute of Process Engineering, CH

Keywords: diabetes, acetone, WO3, chemical gas-sensors

Abstract:

Acetone in the human breath is an important marker for non-invasive diagnosis of diabetes. Here, novel chemo-resistive detectors have been developed that allow rapid measurement of ultralow acetone concentrations (down to 20 ppb) with high signal to noise ratio in ideal (dry air) and realistic (up to 90% r.h.) conditions. The detector films consist of (highly sensitive) pure and Si-doped WO3 nanoparticles (10 - 13 nm in diameter) made in the gas (aerosol) phase and directly deposited onto interdigitated electrodes. Their sensing properties (selectivity, limit of detection, response and recovery times) have been investigated as a function of operating temperature (325 - 500 °C), relative humidity (r.h.) and interfering analyte (ethanol or water vapor) concentration. It was found that Si-doping increases and stabilizes the acetone-selective -WO3 phase while increasing its thermal stability and thus results in enhanced sensing performance with an optimum at about 10 mol% Si-content. Furthermore, increasing the operation temperature decreased the detector response to water vapor and above 400 °C it was (≤ 0.7) always below the threshold (10.6) for fake diabetes detection in ideal conditions. At this temperature and at 90% r.h., healthy humans (≤ 900 ppb acetone) and diabetes patients (≥ 1800 ppb) can be clearly distinguished by a remarkable gap (40%) in sensor response. As a result, these solid state detectors may offer a portable and cost effective alternative to more bulky systems for non-invasive diabetes detection by human breath analysis.
 
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