Thermally evaporated tungsten oxide (WO3) thin films for gas sensing applications

Ahsan, Mohammed (2012) Thermally evaporated tungsten oxide (WO3) thin films for gas sensing applications. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


In this thesis, the author proposed and developed gas sensors made of nanostructured WO3 thin film by a thermal evaporation technique. This technique gives control over film thickness, grain size and purity. The device fabrication, nanostructured material synthesis, characterization and gas sensing performance have been undertaken. Three different types of nanostructured thin films, namely, pure WO3 thin films, iron-doped WO3 thin films by co-evaporation and Fe-implanted WO3 thin films have been synthesized. All the thin films have a film thickness of 300 nm. The physical, chemical and electronic properties of these films have been optimized by annealing heat treatment at 300ºC and 400ºC for 2 hours in air.

Various analytical techniques were employed to characterize these films. Atomic Force Microscopy and Transmission Electron Microscopy revealed a very small grain size of the order 5-10 nm in as-deposited WO3 films, and annealing at 300ºC or 400ºC did not result in any significant change in grain size. X-ray diffraction (XRD) analysis revealed a highly amorphous structure of as-deposited films. Annealing at 300ºC for 2 hours in air did not improve crystallinity in these films. However, annealing at 400ºC for 2 hours in air significantly improved the crystallinity in pure and iron-doped WO3 thin films, whereas it only slightly improved the crystallinity of iron-implanted WO3 thin film as a result of implantation. Rutherford backscattered spectroscopy revealed an iron content of 0.5 at.% and 5.5 at.% in iron-doped and iron-implanted WO3 thin films, respectively. The RBS results have been confirmed using energy dispersive x-ray spectroscopy (EDX) during analysis of the films using transmission electron microscopy (TEM). X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) revealed significant lowering of W 4f7/2 binding energy in all films annealed at 400ºC as compared with the as-deposited and 300ºC annealed films. Lowering of W 4f7/2 is due to increase in number of oxygen vacancies in the films and is considered highly beneficial for gas sensing. Raman analysis revealed that 400ºC annealed films except the iron-implanted film are highly crystalline with significant number of O-W-O bonds, which was consistent with the XRD results. Additionally, XRD, XPS and Raman analyses showed no evidence of secondary peaks corresponding to compounds of iron due to iron doping or implantation. This provided an understanding that iron was incorporated in the host WO3 matrix rather than as a separate dispersed compound or as catalyst on the surface.

WO3 thin film based gas sensors are known to operate efficiently in the temperature range 200ºC-500 ºC. In the present study, by optimizing the physical, chemical and electronic properties through heat treatment and doping, an optimum response to H2, ethanol and CO has been achieved at a low operating temperature of 150ºC. Pure WO3 thin film annealed at 400ºC showed the highest sensitivity towards H2 at 150ºC due to its very small grain size and porosity, coupled with high number of oxygen vacancies, whereas Fe-doped WO3 film annealed at 400ºC showed the highest sensitivity to ethanol at an operating temperature of 150ºC due to its crystallinity, increased number of oxygen vacancies and higher degree of crystal distortions attributed to Fe addition. Pure WO3 films are known to be insensitive to CO, but iron-doped WO3 thin film annealed at 300ºC and 400ºC showed an optimum response to CO at an operating temperature of 150ºC. This result is attributed to lattice distortions produced in WO3 host matrix as a result of iron incorporation as substitutional impurity. However, iron-implanted WO3 thin films did not show any promising response towards the tested gases as the film structure has been damaged due to implantation, and annealing at 300ºC or 400ºC was not sufficient to induce crystallinity in these films.

This study has demonstrated enhanced sensing properties of WO3 thin film sensors towards CO at lower operating temperature, which was achieved by optimizing the physical, chemical and electronic properties of the WO3 film through Fe doping and annealing. This study can be further extended to systematically investigate the effects of different Fe concentrations (0.5 at.% to 10 at.%) on the sensing performance of WO3 thin film gas sensors towards CO.

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ID Code: 53124
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Tesfamichael, Tuquabo, Bell, John M., & Yarlagadda, Prasad K.
Keywords: thermally evaporated tungsten oxide, thin films, gas sensing applications
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Built Environment and Engineering
Past > Schools > School of Engineering Systems
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 14 Aug 2012 02:23
Last Modified: 31 Aug 2015 23:10

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