Detection of Organic Mercaptan Vapors Using Thin Films of Alkylamine-Passivated Gold Nanocrystals

Shawn M. Briglin, Ting Gao, Nathan S. Lewis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


Alkylamine-capped gold nanocrystals have been used as chemically sensitive resistors for the detection of volatile organic mercaptan vapors. Thin ( < 1 × 10 -4 cm) films of dodecylamine-capped, 6-7 nm diameter Au nanocrystals produced dc electrical resistances of 10 kω to 10 Mω when deposited onto interdigitated Au/Cr electrodes. These chemiresistive vapor detectors displayed a reversible increase in dc electrical resistance when exposed to non-thiol-containing vapors such as water, acetone, or toluene delivered at a constant fraction (0.05) of their vapor pressure, with relative differential resistance responses to these vapors of ≈5% under such conditions. In contrast, the amine-capped Au nanocrystal films exhibited a much larger, irreversible decrease in resistance upon exposure to vapors possessing the thiol (-SH) functionality, including H 2S, CH 3SH, and propanethiol. Optical spectroscopic and transmission electron microscopy data indicated that the thiols displaced the amine caps, allowing the gold cores to move closer together and in some cases enter into contact, thereby lowering the film resistance. Consistently, the resistance of such films did not decrease upon exposure to octanethiol. For CH 3SH, the rate of resistance change under repeated experimental conditions allowed extraction of the concentration of analyte over the range 4 ppb to 1.5 ppm in air.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)299-305
Number of pages7
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 20 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Spectroscopy
  • Electrochemistry

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