Fabrication of polyaniline/indium oxide /onion-like carbon ternary nanocomposite for room tempera ture gas sensing applications

Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg
Monitoring and documenting chemical stimuli or environmental fluctuations is vital to daily health care and environmental monitoring. This objective can be accomplished through the development of high-performance sensors able to detect toxic gases such as ammonia, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and many more. The modification of carbon nano-onions with metal oxides/conducting polymer could enhance sensing performances at room temperature. This research focuses on the development of a flexible room temperature gas sensor for ammonia sensing with a sensing layer composed of indium oxide (In2O3)/onion-like carbons (OLCs)/ polyaniline (PANI). The current sensors were tested at a 40-45 percentage humidity. Polyaniline was produced utilizing the rapid polymerization technique with aniline and ammonium persulfate as precursors. Carbon nano-onions were obtained by the flame pyrolysis process with candle wax as the carbon source. The present study compared two microwave-assisted solution-phase methods for the synthesis of indium oxides. The first methods produced indium hydroxide (In(OH)3) followed by its conversion to In2O3 through annealing at 400 oC, and the second used a one-step method where ethanol was used as a solvent instead of water. Different reaction times were used to determine the effect of microwave power on the indium oxide formed through a solution-phase method, and several characterizations techniques were performed to characterize the products, including transmission electron microscopy, X-ray diffraction, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, Raman spectroscopy, scanning electron microscopy, Brunauer-Emmett-Teller, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy and Ultraviolet-visible spectroscopy. The ternary In2O3/PANI/OLCs nanocomposite was fabricated using physical mixing by adding varying amounts of In2O3 to fixed quantities of PANI and OLCs. Using gold-plated interdigitated electrodes (IDEs) embedded on a printed circuit board (PCB) substrate, inexpensive and room temperature functional sensors based on plain PANI, OLCs, OLCs/PANI, and OLCs/PANI/In2O3 were developed. The sensors based on ternary composites outperformed of sensors based on pure PANI, OLCs, and PANI/OLCs, due synergic effect of PANI, OLCs and In2O3 when combined. The sensor with the highest response among the sensors with the ternary nanocomposite as the sensing layer, was chosen for further evaluations of recovery time, reaction time, repeatability, and selectivity. The sensor containing (4.6 mg) B-In2O3/PANI/OLCs was particularly responsive to ammonia in comparison to other analytes (hexane, isopropanol, acetone), with the response and recovery durations of 2.2 minutes and 4.3 minutes, respectively, spanning a concentration range of 25 ppm to 125 ppm. Current results showed that In2O3 materials can be successfully applied in room temperature gas sensing application and further enhance the sensing response to levels that cannot be obtained when using PANI or OLC individually.
A dissertation submitted in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in the Faculty of Science, School of Chemistry, University of the Witwatersrand.
Chemical stimuli, Environmental fluctuations, High-performance sensors, Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), Polyaniline, Brunauer-Emmett-Teller, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, Fabrication of polyaniline-indium oxide nanocomposite