Vapor sensing using polymer/carbon black composites in the percolative conduction regime

Brian C. Sisk, Nathan S. Lewis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)


To investigate the behavior of chemiresistive vapor sensors operating below or around the percolation threshold, chemiresistors have been formed from composites of insulating organic polymers and low mass fractions of conductive carbon black (CB, 1-12% w/w). Such sensors produced extremely large relative differential resistance changes above certain threshold vapor concentrations. At high analyte partial pressures, these sensors exhibited better signal/noise characteristics and were typically less mutually correlated in their vapor response properties than composites formed using higher mass fractions of CB in the same set of polymer sorption layers. The responses of the low-mass-fraction CB sensors were, however, less repeatable, and their nonlinear response as a function of analyte concentration required more complicated calibration schemes to identify and quantify analyte vapors to compensate for drift of a sensor array and to compensate for variability in response between sensor arrays. Because of their much larger response signals, the low-mass-fraction CB sensors might be especially well suited for use with low-precision analog-to-digital signal readout electronics. These sensors serve well as a complement to composites formed from higher mass fractions of CB and have yielded insight into the tradeoffs of signal-to-noise improvements vs complexity of signal processing algorithms necessitated by the use of nonlinearly responding detectors in array-based sensing schemes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7928-7935
Number of pages8
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - Aug 29 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

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