Safe handling of explosive fuels, and especially the use of hydrogen fuel necessitate the availability of efficient devices able to detect selectively harmful/toxic gases at a very low level. Solid-state gas sensors therefore play a major role in personal safety and national security.

However despite the recent advances in the field of gas detection, namely by using semi-conducting oxide layers, the development of highly efficient new systems is still necessary. Indeed, the working principle of the classical chemoresistors based on semi-conducting oxides often give rise to similar responses caused by completely different molecules, the addition of metallic nanoparticles having not enabled to overcome completely this problem. In this context, the use of functional hybrid metal oxide based materials, which associate at the nanometre level active inorganic and organic components in a single material, is very promising since it allows taking advantage of the outstanding chemical and electronic properties of nanostructured oxide materials and, on the other hand, of the flexibility offered by the organic component.

It is therefore planned to design new hybrid organic-inorganic nanostructured architectures able to detect selectively target gas by using the following strategy: i) design of organometallics endowed with an organic linker allowing the fine control of the nanostructuration of the final material; ii) processing of self-assembled organometallic oxide hybrid thin films; iii) tuning the selectivity of the active tin oxide layers by using functional organic groups in the organic spacers as amine or thiols; iv) studies of the mechanism of gas detection on these hybrid oxide layers by performing in-situ and operando spectroscopic measurements. Our approach is based on the design of molecular single precursors which contain all the functionalities required to get stable hybrid material showing selective detection of harmful/toxic gasses. The novelty relies on the use of the tool box offered by the organometallic chemistry to design original gas sensor operating at low temperature and consuming low energy.

This collaborative german-french project associates tightly organometallic and sol-gel chemistries, chemistry of materials, structural characterizations and fabrication and characterization of the target devices, and gathers the complementary skills of the University of Bordeaux 1 and of the Technische Universitaet Darmstadt (TUD). As industrial partner, Merck will be involved in this project to interact with the PhD student to consider material synthesis and scalability in the framework of this research program. The candidate will regularly inform our functional material team of the advancement of this research program.

Project Partners and their Roles

UB1-ISM - Sol-gel synthesis of metal semi-conducting oxide nanoparticles; chemical modification of semi-conducting oxide surfaces.

TUD- Solid-state chemistry, Material chemistry, Gas sensors.

IAV Automotive Engineering: Functional material team regarding scalabilty and advices in industrial issues