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Phys Chem Chem Phys. 2013 Apr 14;15(14):5017-21. doi: 10.1039/c3cp43454k.

Reducing cross-sensitivity of TiO2-(B) nanowires to humidity using ultraviolet illumination for trace explosive detection.

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  • 1Applied Physics Laboratory & Electrical Engineering, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 98105, USA.


Environmental humidity is an important factor that can influence the sensing performance of a metal oxide. TiO2-(B) in the form of nanowires has been demonstrated to be a promising material for the detection of explosive gases such as 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene (TNT). However, the elimination of cross-sensitivity of the explosive detectors based on TiO2-(B) toward environmental humidity is still a major challenge. It was found that the cross-sensitivity could be effectively modulated when the thin film of TiO2-(B) nanowires was exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light during the detection of explosives under operating conditions. Such a modulation of sensing responses of TiO2-(B) nanowires to explosives by UV light was attributed to a photocatalytic effect, with which the water adsorbed on the TiO2-(B) nanowire surface was split and therefore the sensor response performance was less affected. It was revealed that the cross-sensitivity could be suppressed up to 51% when exposed to UV light of 365 nm wavelength with an intensity of 40 mW cm(-2). This finding proves that the reduction of cross-sensitivity to humidity through UV irradiation is an effective approach that can improve the performance of a sensor based on TiO2-(B) nanowires for the detection of explosive gas.

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