Journal of Advanced Ceramics


gas sensors, acetone, metal oxide semiconductors (MOSs), ZnO nanoparticles (NPs), H2O2 treatment


ZnO has been studied intensely for chemical sensors due to its high sensitivity and fast response. Here, we present a simple approach to precisely control oxygen vacancy contents to provide significantly enhanced acetone sensing performance of commercial ZnO nanopowders. A combination of H2O2 treatment and thermal annealing produces optimal surface defects with oxygen vacancies on the ZnO nanoparticles (NPs). The highest response of ~27,562 was achieved for 10 ppm acetone in 0.125 M H2O2 treated/annealed ZnO NPs at the optimal working temperature of 400 ℃, which is significantly higher than that of reported so far in various acetone sensors based on metal oxide semiconductors (MOSs). Furthermore, first-principles calculations indicate that pre-adsorbed O formed on the surface of H2O2 treated ZnO NPs can provide favorable adsorption energy, especially for acetone detection, due to strong bidentate bonding between carbonyl C atom of acetone molecules and pre-adsorbed O on the ZnO surface. Our study demonstrates that controlling surface oxygen vacancies by H2O2 treatment and re-annealing at optimal temperature is an effective method to improve the sensing properties of commercial MOS materials.