From 1D and 2D ZnO nanostructures to 3D hierarchical structures with enhanced gas sensing properties
Facile and low cost hydrothermal routes are developed to fabricate three-dimensional (3D) hierarchical ZnO structures with high surface-to-volume ratios and an increased fraction of (0001) polar surfaces. Hierarchical ZnO nanowires (ZNWs) and nanodisks (ZNDs) assembled from initial ZnO nanostructures are prepared from sequential nucleation and growth following a hydrothermal process. These hierarchical ZnO structures display an enhancement of gas sensing performance and exhibit significantly improved sensitivity and fast response to acetone in comparison to other mono-morphological ZnO, such as nanoparticles, NWs, or NDs. In addition to the high surface-to-volume ratio due to its small size, the nanowire building blocks show the enhanced gas sensing properties mainly ascribed to the increased proportion of exposed active (0001) planes, and the formation of many nanojunctions at the interface between the initial ZnO nanostructure and secondary NWs. This work provides the route for structure induced enhancement of gas sensing performance by designing a desirable nanostructure, which could also be extended to synthesize other metal oxide nanostructures with superior gas sensing performance.