Chemical gas sensors that employ integrated optical polarimetric interferometry were fabricated by the sol-gel synthesis of transparent mesoporous thin films of TiO2-P2O5 nanocomposite on tapered layers of TiO2 sputtered on tin-diffused glass waveguides. Atomic force microscopy images of the mesoporous thin film clearly show the open pore mouths on the film surface that favor rapid diffusion and adsorption of gas-phase analytes within the entire film. Adsorption of gas and vapor induces changes (Δn) in the refractive index of the mesoporous thin film that lead to shifts in the phase difference between the fundamental transverse electric and magnetic modes simultaneously excited in the glass waveguide via single-beam incidence. Upon exposure to NH3 gas at concentrations as low as 100 ppb in dry air at room temperature, the sensor exhibits a reversible change in the phase difference with the response and recovery times of less than 60 and 90 s, respectively. It is unexpected that the sensor is unresponsive to either NO2 or C6H6 vapor, leading to a somewhat selective sensitivity to NH3. Determination of Δn was carried out with a combination of the experimental results and the theoretical calculations. The sensor design represents a novel, effective, and easily accessible approach to mesoporous thin-film-based integrated optical chemical sensors.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Analytical Chemistry