Nanoplasmonic NO2 Sensor with a Sub-10 Parts per Billion Limit of Detection in Urban Air

March 31, 2022

Urban air pollution is a critical health problem in cities all around the world. Therefore, spatially highly resolved real-time monitoring of airborne pollutants, in general, and of nitrogen dioxide, NO2, in particular, is of utmost importance. However, highly accurate but fixed and bulky measurement stations or satellites are used for this purpose to date. This defines a need for miniaturized NO2 sensor solutions with detection limits in the low parts per billion range to finally enable indicative air quality monitoring at low cost that facilitates detection of highly local emission peaks and enables the implementation of direct local actions like traffic control, to immediately reduce local emissions. To address this challenge, we present a nanoplasmonic NO2 sensor based on arrays of Au nanoparticles coated with a thin layer of polycrystalline WO3, which displays a spectral redshift in the localized surface plasmon resonance in response to NO2. Sensor performance is characterized under (i) idealized laboratory conditions, (ii) conditions simulating humid urban air, and (iii) an outdoor field test in a miniaturized device benchmarked against a commercial NO2 sensor approved according to European and American standards. The limit of detection of the plasmonic solution is below 10 ppb in all conditions. The observed plasmonic response is attributed to a combination of charge transfer between the WO3 layer and the plasmonic Au nanoparticles, WO3 layer volume expansion, and changes in WO3 permittivity. The obtained results highlight the viability of nanoplasmonic gas sensors, in general, and their potential for practical application in indicative urban air monitoring, in particular.


Irem Tanyeli, Iwan Darmadi, Martin Sech, Christopher Tiburski, Joachim Fritzsche , Olof Andersson, and Christoph Langhammer

Published in

ACS Sensors


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