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Facile synthesis of mesoporous hierarchical Co₃O₄–TiO₂ p–n heterojunctions with greatly enhanced gas sensing performance

Zhang, Jiajun, Tang, Pinggui, Liu, Tongyuan, Feng, Yongjun, Blackman, Chris, Li, Dianqing
Journal of materials chemistry A 2017 v.5 no.21 pp. 10387-10397
active sites, adsorption, air, cobalt, cobalt oxide, durability, hydroxides, nanocomposites, oxygen, porous media, surface area, temperature, titanium dioxide, toluene, volatile organic compounds, xylene
The development of highly active, sensitive and durable gas sensing materials for the detection of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) is extremely desirable for gas sensors. Herein, a series of mesoporous hierarchical Co₃O₄–TiO₂ p–n heterojunctions have been prepared for the first time via the facile thermal conversion of hierarchical CoTi layered double hydroxides (CoTi-LDHs) precursors at 300–400 °C. The resulting Co₃O₄–TiO₂ nanocomposites showed superior sensing performance towards toluene and xylene in comparison with Co₃O₄ and TiO₂ at low temperature, and the sample with a Co/Ti molar ratio of 4 shows an optimal response (Rg/Rₐ = 113, Rg and Rₐ denote the sensor resistance in a target gas and in air, respectively) to 50 ppm xylene at 115 °C. The ultrahigh sensing activity of these Co₃O₄–TiO₂ p–n heterojunctions originates from their hierarchical structure, high specific surface area (>120 m² g⁻¹), and the formation of numerous p–n heterojunctions, which results in full exposure of active sites, easy adsorption of oxygen and target gases, and large modulation of resistance. Importantly, hierarchical Co₃O₄–TiO₂ heterojunctions possess advantages of simple preparation, structural stability, good selectivity and long-term durability. Therefore, this work provides a facile approach for the preparation of hierarchical Co₃O₄–TiO₂ p–n heterojunctions with excellent activity, sensitivity and durability, which can be used as a promising material for the development of high-performance gas sensors.