Quasi physisorptive two dimensional tungsten oxide nanosheets with extraordinary sensitivity and selectivity to NO2†
Attributing to their distinct thickness and surface dependent physicochemical properties, two dimensional (2D) nanostructures have become an area of increasing interest for interfacial interactions. Effectively, properties such as high surface-to-volume ratio, modulated surface activities and increased control of oxygen vacancies make these types of materials particularly suitable for gas-sensing applications. This work reports a facile wet-chemical synthesis of 2D tungsten oxide nanosheets by sonication of tungsten particles in an acidic environment and thermal annealing thereafter. The resultant product of large nanosheets with intrinsic substoichiometric properties is shown to be highly sensitive and selective to nitrogen dioxide (NO2) gas, which is a major pollutant. The strong synergy between polar NO2 molecules and tungsten oxide surface and also abundance of active surface sites on the nanosheets for molecule interactions contribute to the exceptionally sensitive and selective response. An extraordinary response factor of ∼30 is demonstrated to ultralow 40 parts per billion (ppb) NO2 at a relatively low operating temperature of 150 °C, within the physisorption temperature band for tungsten oxide. Selectivity to NO2 is demonstrated and the theory behind it is discussed. The structural, morphological and compositional characteristics of the synthesised and annealed materials are extensively characterised and electronic band structures are proposed. The demonstrated 2D tungsten oxide based sensing device holds the greatest promise for producing future commercial low-cost, sensitive and selective NO2 gas sensors.