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Nanoparticle Engineering and Control of Tin Oxide Microstructures for Chemical Microsensor Applications



B Panchapakesan, Don L. DeVoe, M R. Widmaier, Richard E. Cavicchi, Stephen Semancik


The use of metal nanoparticles have been investigated as seed layers for controlling the microstructures of tin oxide (SnO2) films on temperature controllable micromachined platforms has been investigated. The study is focused on SnO2 due to its importance in the field of chemical microsensors. Nanoparticle seeds of iron, cobalt, nickel, coppor and silver were formed by vapour deposition on the microhotplates followed by annealing at 500 C prior to self-aligned SnO2 deposition. Significant control of SnO2 grain sizes, ranging between 20 and 121 nm, was achieved depending on the seed-layer type. A correlation was found between decreasing the SnO2 grain size and increasing the melting temperature of the seed-layer metals, suggesting the use of high temperature metals as being appropriate choices as seed layers for obtaining a smaller SnO2 grain structure. Smaller grain diameters resulted in high sensitivity in 90 ppm ethanol illustrating the benefits of nanoparticle seeding for chemical senisng. The initial morphology, particle size and distribution of the seed layers was found to dicate the final SnO2 morphology and grain size. This paper not only demonstrates the possibility of depositing nanostructured oxide materials for chemical microsensor applications, but also demonstrates the feasibility of conducting combinatorial research into nanoparticle growth using temperature controllable microhotplate platforms. This paper also demonstrates the possibility of using multi-element arrays to form a range of different types of devices that could be used with suitable olfactory signal processing techniques in order to identify a variety of gases.


micro-hotplate, microsensor, microstructure control, nanoparticles, nanostructures, seed layer, thin film, tin oxide


Panchapakesan, B. , DeVoe, D. , Widmaier, M. , Cavicchi, R. and Semancik, S. (2001), Nanoparticle Engineering and Control of Tin Oxide Microstructures for Chemical Microsensor Applications, Nanotechnology, [online],, (Accessed June 24, 2024)


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Created August 31, 2001, Updated October 12, 2021