Decorated carbon nanotubes with unique oxygen sensitivity


The relatively simple and robust architecture of microelectronic devices based on carbon nanotubes, in conjunction with their environmental sensitivity, places them among the leading candidates for incorporation into ultraportable or wearable chemical analysis platforms. We used single-walled carbon nanotube (SWNT) networks to establish a mechanistic understanding of the solid-state oxygen sensitivity of a Eu3+-containing dendrimer complex. After illumination with 365 nm light, the SWNT networks decorated with the Eu3+ dendrimer show bimodal (optical spectroscopic and electrical conductance) sensitivity towards oxygen gas at room temperature under ambient pressure. We investigated the mechanism of this unique oxygen sensitivity with time-resolved and steady-state optical spectroscopy, analysis of excited-state luminescence lifetimes and solid-state electrical transport measurements. We demonstrate a potential application of this system by showing a reversible and linear electrical response to oxygen gas in the tested range (5–27%).

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Figure 1: Chemical structure of the Eu3+-containing dendrimer complex (Eu8) and presentation of decorated SWNT devices.
Figure 2: Solution-phase oxygen sensitivity of the Eu8 complex.
Figure 3: Bimodal oxygen sensitivity of the Eu8-decorated SWNT devices.
Figure 4: Electrical response of a Eu8-SWNT device with varying oxygen concentrations.


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The authors thank D. H. Waldeck for his comments, and acknowledge the facilities, scientific and technical assistance of the Materials Micro-Characterization Laboratory of the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science, Swanson School of Engineering, University of Pittsburgh. This work was performed in support of ongoing research in sensor systems and diagnostics at the National Energy Technology Laboratory under RDS contract DE-AC26-04NT41817. This work was partially supported through the National Science Foundation (Grant DBI-0352346).

Author information

D.R.K fabricated devices, performed electron microscopy, optical absorption and EDX spectroscopy, electrical conductance measurements and gas sensor studies. C.M.S. performed photoluminescence spectroscopy and luminescence lifetime measurements. H.U. synthesized and characterized the Eu8 dendrimer. All authors contributed to the design of the experiments, interpretation of the results and writing of the manuscript.

Correspondence to Stéphane Petoud or Alexander Star.

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Kauffman, D., Shade, C., Uh, H. et al. Decorated carbon nanotubes with unique oxygen sensitivity. Nature Chem 1, 500–506 (2009).

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