A novel application of nanoporous gold to humidity sensing: a framework for a general volatile compound sensor†
Volatile organic compounds (VOC) are ubiquitous in industrial applications creating a pressing desire for novel transduction pathways to build a broad family of new gas sensors. Nanoporous gold (NPG) is a material with a vast range of untapped potential applications; offering a high surface area found generally in nanomaterials, while also being comparatively simple to fabricate. NPG based sensors can also leverage the unique physics of gold at the nanoscale. In this work, we leverage the multiple unique nanoscale phenomena associated with NPG to demonstrate two novel transduction mechanisms to sense humidity, a model compound. Through direct electrical measurements of NPG, we were able to sense changes in the electronic properties of NPG induced by ambient humidity. We propose two novel transduction mechanisms: chemoresistive changes induced by surface adsorption and electrochemical capacitive changes induced by the electric double layer to detect humidity. To our knowledge this is the first reported application of both these mechanisms for sensing any volatile compounds utilizing NPG.