Chemical Detection with a Single-Walled Carbon Nanotube Capacitor

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Science  25 Mar 2005:
Vol. 307, Issue 5717, pp. 1942-1945
DOI: 10.1126/science.1109128

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We show that the capacitance of single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) is highly sensitive to a broad class of chemical vapors and that this transduction mechanism can form the basis for a fast, low-power sorption-based chemical sensor. In the presence of a dilute chemical vapor, molecular adsorbates are polarized by the fringing electric fields radiating from the surface of a SWNT electrode, which causes an increase in its capacitance. We use this effect to construct a high-performance chemical sensor by thinly coating the SWNTs with chemoselective materials that provide a large, class-specific gain to the capacitance response. Such SWNT chemicapacitors are fast, highly sensitive, and completely reversible.

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