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Title: Nanowire field-effect transistors for gas sensor applications
Author: Constantinou, Marios
ISNI:       0000 0004 6494 510X
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2017
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Sensing BTEX (Benzene, Ethylbenzene, Toluene, Xylene) pollutants is of utmost importance to reduce health risk and ensure public safety. The lack of sensitivity and selectivity of the current gas sensors and the limited number of available technologies in the field of BTEX-sensing raises the demand for the development of high-performance gas sensors for BTEX applications. The scope of this thesis is the fabrication and characterisation of high-quality field-effect transistors (FETs), with functionalised silicon nanowires (SiNWs), for the selective sensing of benzene vs. other BTEX gases. This research addresses three main challenges in SiNW FET-sensor device development: i) controllable and reproducible assembly of high-quality SiNWs for FET sensor devices using the method of dielectrophoresis (DEP), ii) almost complete elimination of harmful hysteresis effect in the SiNW FET current-voltage characteristics induced by surface states using DMF solvent, iii) selective sensing of benzene with up to ppb range of sensitivity using calix[4]arene-derivatives. It is experimentally demonstrated that frequency-controlled DEP is a powerful tool for the selection and collection of semiconducting SiNWs with advanced electrical and morphological properties, from a poly-disperse as-synthesised NWs. The DEP assembly method also leads to a controllable and reproducible fabrication of high-quality NW-based FETs. The results highlight the superiority of DEP, performed at high signal frequencies (5-20 MHz) to selectively assemble only high-quality NWs which can respond to such high DEP frequencies. The SiNW FETs, with NWs collected at high DEP frequencies, have high mobility (≈50 cm2 V-1 s-1), low sub-threshold-swing (≈1.26 V/decade), high on-current (up to 3 mA) and high on/off ratio (106-107). The DEP NW selection is also demonstrated using an industrially scalable method, to allow establishing of NW response characteristics to different DEP frequencies in a very short time window of about 60 seconds. The choice of solvent for the dispersion of the SiNW for the DEP process demonstrates a dramatic impact on their surface trap, with DMF solvent acting as a mild oxidising agent on the NW surface shell. This surface state passivation technique resulted in the fabrication of high-quality, hysteresis-free NW FET transducers for sensor applications. Finally, the proof-of-concept SiNW FET transducer decorated with calix[4]arene-derivative gas receptors exhibits selective detection of benzene vs. other BTEX gases up to 30 ppm concentrations, and up to sub-ppm benzene concentration. The demonstrated NW-sensors are low power and compact, and therefore can be easily mounted on a mobile device, providing instantaneous determination of hazardous gases in the surrounding atmosphere. The methodologies developed in this thesis, have a high potential to make a breakthrough in low-cost, selective gas sensors, which can be fabricated in line with printed and flexible electronic approaches.
Supervisor: Shkunov, Maxim Sponsor: Alphasense Ltd
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available