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Single-atom thin platinum makes a sensitive chemical sensor

By Gerald Ondrey |

Boosting the sensitivity of solid-state gas sensors is often achieved by incorporating nanostructured materials as the sensing element. However, interfacial effects at nanoparticles, grains or contacts can lead to non-linear responses, high electrical resistance or electrical noise. A possible way to overcome such drawbacks, using a one-atom thin layer of platinum on silicon carbide, has been reported by a team of researchers, led by scientists at Chalmers University of Technology (Gothenburg, Sweden; www.chalmers.se), and recently published in Advanced Material Interfaces. These electrically continuous Pt layers are prepared by physical vapor deposition on the “carbon zero layer” (buffer layer) of silicon carbide. The buffer layer is a graphene-like 2-D electrical insulating layer grown epitaxially on the silicon terminated face (0001) of 4H-SiC. This layer enables the 2-D growth of Pt, and also serves to detect the onset of electrical conductivity of the surface as the metal deposits. The 3–4-Å thin Pt layer is found to be “super sensitive to its chemical environment,” explains Kyung Ho Kim, postdoctoral fellow at the Quantum Device Physics Laboratory at the Dept. of Microtechnology and Nanoscience at Chalmers, and lead…
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