Chemiresistor gas sensors based on photoconductivity changes in phthalocyanine thin films: Enhancement of response toward ammonia by photoelectrochemical deposition with metal modifiers

Rossella Brina, Greg E. Collins, Paul A. Lee, Neal R Armstrong

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Determination of NH3 in flowing N2 or air is demonstrated by monitoring changes in the photoconductivity of chloroindium phthalocyanine (InPc-Cl) and chlorogallium phthalocyanine (GaPc-Cl) thin films vacuum deposited on platinum silicide interdigitated array microcircuits. Photoconductivity changes were measured, as opposed to the more commonly measured dark conductivity changes, yielding reasonable sensitivity to the adsorption of submonolayer amounts of gas analytes such as NH3. Photoelectrochemical modification of Pc-coated microcircuits was carried out in order to obtain submonolayer coverages of a variety of different metals (Ag, Au, Cu, Pt, and Hg) on the Pc film. This modification apparently provides new chemisorption sites for NH3, thus improving the performance of these microcircuit assemblies as NH3 sensors in N2 and in air. The Hg-modified microcircuits demonstrated a superior performance compared to the microcircuits modified with other metals, by showing a linear photocurrent response as a function of NH3 concentration in N2 at room temperature over the range from ca. 1.5 to 5.4 ppm, and a logarithmic relationship above that level (up to ca. 84 ppm). Photoconductivity measurements in NH3-air mixtures were carried out on microcircuit assemblies "as-prepared" and after photoelectrochemical modification. The presence of the metal modifier on the InPc-Cl film markedly improves the assembly performance in air, providing a detection limit for NH3 in air of ca. 1.0 part per thousand (ppt). The effect on the photoconductivity of O2 and other impurities present in GaPc-Cl and InPc-Cl is discussed, and a mechanism is proposed to explain the variations observed in the photocurrent response to NH3 in these assemblies before and after modification.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2357-2365
Number of pages9
JournalAnalytical Chemistry
Issue number21
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1 1990


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry

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