Array-based vapor sensing using chemically sensitive, carbon black-Polymer resistors

Mark C. Lonergan, Erik J. Severin, Brett J. Doleman, Sara A. Beaber, Robert H. Grubbs, Nathan S. Lewis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

591 Citations (Scopus)


We describe herein the construction of a simple, low-power, broadly responsive vapor sensor. Carbon black - organic polymer composites have been shown to swell reversibly upon exposure to vapors. Thin films of carbon black - organic polymer composites were deposited across two metallic leads, and swelling-induced resistance changes of the films signaled the presence of vapors. To identify and classify vapors, arrays of such vapor-sensing elements were constructed, with each element containing the same carbon black conducting phase but a different organic polymer as the insulating phase. The differing gas - solid partition coefficients for the various polymers of the sensor array produced a pattern of resistance changes that can be used to classify vapors and vapor mixtures. This type of sensor array resolved common organic solvents, including molecules of different classes (such as aromatics from alcohols) as well as those within a particular class (such as benzene from toluene and methanol from ethanol). The response of an individual composite to varying concentrations of solvent was consistent with the predictions of percolation theory. Accordingly, significant increases in the signals from array elements were observed for carbon black - polymer composites that were operated near their percolation thresholds.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2298-2312
Number of pages15
JournalChemistry of Materials
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Materials Chemistry

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