Carbon nanotube (CNT) is a promising material which has potential for applications to various nanotechnology devices owing to its unique features like high electrical conductivity, mechanical strength and large specific surface area. Recently, gas sensors using CNTs or carbon nano-fiber, which have extremely high sensitivity at a room temperature with fast response, have been reported. Being exposed to oxidizing gas like NO, NO2 or O3, the conductance of the single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) changes due to charge transfer between the SWNT surface and gas molecules adsorbed. Therefore CNTs will be applicable to O2 and O3 gas sensors in various fields.
CNTs thin film sensor was prepared and its performance was investigated. CNTs thin film was prepared on a SiN substrate using PLD/CVD method. To prepare a sensor device an Al2O3 substrate with Pt interdigital electrodes (sensor substrate) was used. In this method, Fe catalytic thin film was deposited by pulsed laser deposition (PLD) method using KrF excimer laser of wavelength 248 nm, repetition rate 10 Hz, energy fluence 3 J/cm2. During PLD process the substrate temperature and the ambient gas pressure were kept at room temperature of 25 °C and 3.5×10−5 Torr, respectively. The thickness and roughness of the films were modified by changing a number of ablation laser pulses from 300 to 3,000. A small number of laser pulses deposited Fe nano-particles of less than 10 nm in diameter on the substrate. We used 1000 pulses for a catalytic Fe film preparation as small-sized catalyst is necessary to grow SWNTs. CNTs were grown from Fe thin film on Si or sensor substrates by thermal CVD method. Ethylene gas was used as carbon source. The substrate was set in the quartz reaction tube heated to 1000 °C in an electric furnace. CNTs were grown for 20 ∼ 40 minutes. In our previous studies, it was found that SWNTs can grow under this process. The prepared CNTs were characterized using SEM, TEM and Raman spectroscopy. From SEM observation, randomly oriented CNTs were found on both the Si substrate and the sensor substrate. A diameter of CNTs was found 20 ∼ 50 nm which tended to be proportional to the size of catalyst particle.
The Sensitivity of CNT gas sensor was evaluated by measuring the electrical characteristic of the sensor. The sensor was exposed to NO gas of different concentration in a chamber. Resistance of the sensor was measured by two-terminal method, while the sensor was heated from room temperature to a high temperature on a block heater. The Sensitivity of CNT gas sensors, response time and reproducibility was measured. Initial resistance of the film was about 450 and it decreases with temperature increase. This shows that a prepared CNTs sensor film has semiconductor characteristics. Measured maximum sensitivity of CNTs gas sensor was 6.9 % at sensor temperature 290 deg. Detail studies and the latest data will be presented at the symposium.