Flexible Carbon Nanotube Hybrid Paper Has Efficient UV Sensing, Photocatalyst Applications

Achievement date: 
2015
Outcome/accomplishment: 

Using zinc oxide (ZnO), researchers at the NSF-funded Lighting Enabled Systems & Applications ERC (LESA), headquartered at Rensselaer Polytechnic University, have fabricated a flexible, carbon nanotube (CNT) hybrid paper with high aspect ratio for efficient ultraviolet (UV) sensing and photocatalyst applications. 

 

Impact/benefits: 

This method may open up opportunities to fabricate many other flexible, recyclable and high-performance functional devices. UV photodetectors are used to secure space-to-space communications, pollution monitoring, water sterilization, flame sensing, and early missile plume detection, and can play an important role in purifying air and water containing low concentrations of pollutants.

Explanation/Background: 

While GaN is the most common and well commercialized wide-band gap material for ultraviolet devices, ZnO has drawn significant research interest due to its unique optical and electronic properties, including wide band-gap, large exciton binding energy at room temperature, low cost, and environmental friendliness.

A ZnO-multi-wall CNT (MWCNT) hybrid paper was fabricated via atomic layer deposition on the outside surface of the MWCNT followed by hydrothermal growth of ZnO branches, achieving a very high surface-to-volume ratio. A photodetector fabricated from the hybrid paper demonstrates a very high photo-responsivity and a fast transient response in the UV region.