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Hierarchical ZnO Nanosheet-Nanorod Architectures for Fabrication of Poly(3-hexylthiophene)/ZnO Hybrid NO2 Sensor

Wang, Jing, Li, Xian, Xia, Yi, Komarneni, Sridhar, Chen, Haoyuan, Xu, Jianlong, Xiang, Lan, Xie, Dan
ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces 2016 v.8 no.13 pp. 8600-8607
adsorption, ambient temperature, composite materials, films (materials), hydroxyl radicals, nanorods, nanosheets, nitrogen dioxide, sensors (equipment), zinc, zinc oxide
A facile one-step solution method has been developed here to fabricate hierarchical ZnO nanosheet–nanorod architectures for compositing with poly(3-hexylthiophene) (P3HT) for fabricating a hybrid NO₂ sensor. The hierarchical ZnO nanosheet–nanorod architectures were controllably synthesized by aging the solutions containing 0.05 mol·L–¹ Zn²⁺ and 0.33 mol·L–¹ OH– at 60 °C through a metastable phase-directed mechanism. The concentration of OH– played a huge role on the morphology evolution. When the [OH–] concentration was decreased from 0.5 to 0.3 mol·L–¹, the morphology of the ZnO nanostructures changed gradually from monodispersed nanorods (NR) to nanorod assemblies (NRA), and then to nanosheet–nanorod architectures (NS-NR) and nanosheet assemblies (NSA), depending on the formation of various metastable, intermediate phases. The formation of NS-NR included the initial formation of ZnO nanosheets/γ-Zn(OH)₂ mixed intermediates, followed by the dissolution of Zn(OH)₂, which served as soluble zinc source. Soluble Zn(OH)₂ facilitated the dislocation-driven secondary growth of ZnO nanorod arrays on the primary defect-rich nanosheet substrates. Hybrid sensors based on composite films composed of P3HT and the as-prepared ZnO nanostructures were fabricated for the detection of NO₂ at room temperature. The P3HT/ZnO NS-NR bilayer film exhibited not only the highest sensitivity but also good reproducibility and selectivity to NO₂ at room temperature. The enhanced sensing performance was attributed to the formation of the P3HT/ZnO heterojunction in addition to the enhanced adsorption of NO₂ by NS-NR ZnO rich in oxygen-vacancy defects.