Special Issue "Nanotechnology Efforts for Chemical Sensors"

A special issue of Chemosensors (ISSN 2227-9040).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 July 2019

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Dr. Elena Bruno

Assistant Professor of Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Catania, Via S. Sofia 64, 95123 Catania, Italy
Website 1 | Website 2 | E-Mail
Interests: gas sensors; graphene; polymers; semiconductors; nanomaterials; nanotechnology; photocatalysis; point-defects and dopants in Si and Ge
Guest Editor
Dr. Salvo Mirabella

Associate Professor of Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Catania, Via S. Sofia 64, 95123 Catania, Italy
Website | E-Mail
Interests: semiconductor nanostructures; photovoltaics; smart sensing; microelectronics; light absorption in Si and Ge quantum structures, sunlight-energy conversion, low-cost TMO nanostructures, point-defects and dopants in Si and Ge

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The recent overwhelming developments in nanotechnology permitted a plethora of applications in many fields, among which, the sensing area gained some very large advantages. The scientific community continues to pursue nanomaterial development able to enhance specific sensors performances, such as sensitivity, selectivity, response time, signal-to-noise ratio, and stability. In addition, safe, sustainable and inexpensive methodologies for nanostructure fabrication are highly required, aimed at an effective integration for large scale production of sensing devices. As the sensing process starts with the analyte/surface interaction, a careful control of the surface of sensing materials has been pursued with great success, by using functionalization, decoration, surface treatment and defect engineering techniques. The exploitation of quantum structures and effects, as well as the use of low-dimensional materials, represent a promising effort of nanotechnology research for sensing application.

In this Special Issue, we wish to collect the latest developments and advances in nanotechnology for sensors and sensors for nanotechnology. Scientific and technological efforts are welcome for providing new solutions for chemical and biochemical sensing, enabling increased detection sensitivity, specificity, and multiplexing capability in new portable devices for a wide variety of health, safety, agricultural, food, environmental assessments, and so on.

Full papers, communications, and reviews will be considered for publication in this Special Issue.

Kind regards,

Dr. Elena Bruno
Dr. Salvo Mirabella
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Chemosensors is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 350 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Chemical sensing 
  • Low-cost synthesis 
  • Non-equilibrium processes 
  • Nanostructures self-assembly
  • Surface functionalization 
  • Surface/interface effects 
  • Size effects 
  • 2D, 1D and 0D materials 
  • Hybrid (organic/inorganic) nanostructures 
  • New chemical sensors design 
  • Electrochemical devices 
  • Selective Catalysis 
  • Characterization development for nanosensors 
  • Analytical methods, modeling, readout and software for chemical nanosensors 
  • Large scale integration 
  • Optrodes

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle Improved Synthesis of ZnO Nanowalls: Effects of Chemical Bath Deposition Time and Annealing Temperature
Chemosensors 2019, 7(2), 18; https://doi.org/10.3390/chemosensors7020018
Received: 18 February 2019 / Revised: 26 March 2019 / Accepted: 27 March 2019 / Published: 1 April 2019
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Abstract
Zinc Oxide (ZnO) nanowalls (NWLs) are interesting nanostructures for sensing application. In order to push towards the realization of room-temperature operating sensors, a detailed investigation of the synthesis effect on the electrical and optical properties is needed. This work focuses on the low-cost [...] Read more.
Zinc Oxide (ZnO) nanowalls (NWLs) are interesting nanostructures for sensing application. In order to push towards the realization of room-temperature operating sensors, a detailed investigation of the synthesis effect on the electrical and optical properties is needed. This work focuses on the low-cost synthesis of ZnO NWLs by means of chemical bath deposition (growth time of 5, 60, and 120 minutes) followed by annealing in inert ambient (temperature of 100, 200, and 300 °C). The as-grown NWLs show a typical intertwined network of vertical sheets whose features (thickness and height) stabilize after 60 minutes growth. During thermal annealing, NWLs are converted into ZnO. The electric transport across the ZnO NWL network radically changes after annealing. A higher resistivity was observed for longer deposition times and for higher annealing temperatures, at which the photoluminescence spectra resemble those obtained for ZnO material. A longer deposition time allows for a better transformation to ZnO during the annealing, thanks to the presence of ZnO seeds just after the growth. These findings can have a significant role in promoting the realization of room-temperature operating sensors based on ZnO NWLs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nanotechnology Efforts for Chemical Sensors)
Open AccessArticle Porous Gig-Lox TiO2 Doped with N2 at Room Temperature for P-Type Response to Ethanol
Chemosensors 2019, 7(1), 12; https://doi.org/10.3390/chemosensors7010012
Received: 23 January 2019 / Revised: 28 February 2019 / Accepted: 5 March 2019 / Published: 12 March 2019
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Abstract
Nanostructured materials represent a breakthrough in many fields of application. Above all for sensing, the use of nanostructures with a high surface/volume ratio is strategic to raise the sensitivity towards dangerous environmental gas species. A new Dc-Reactive sputtering Deposition method has been applied [...] Read more.
Nanostructured materials represent a breakthrough in many fields of application. Above all for sensing, the use of nanostructures with a high surface/volume ratio is strategic to raise the sensitivity towards dangerous environmental gas species. A new Dc-Reactive sputtering Deposition method has been applied to grow highly porous p-type nitrogen-doped titanium oxide layers by modifying the previously developed reactive sputtering method called gig-lox. The doping of the films was achieved at room temperature by progressive incorporation of nitrogen species during the deposition process. Two different amounts of N2 were introduced into the deposition chamber at flow rates of 2 and 5 standard cubic centimeter per minutes (sccm) for doping. It has been found that the N2 uptake reduces the deposition rate of the TiO2 film whilst the porosity and the roughness of the grown layer are not penalized. Despite the low amount of N2, using 2 sccm of gas resulted in proper doping of the TiO2 film as revealed by XPS Analyses. In this case, nitrogen atoms are mainly arranged in substitutional positions with respect to the oxygen atoms inside the lattice, and this defines the p-type character of the growing layer. Above this strategic structural modification, the multibranched spongy porosity, peculiar of the gig-lox growth, is still maintained. As proof of concept of the achievements, a sensing device was prepared by combining this modified gig-lox deposition method with state-of-the-art hot-plate technology to monitor the electrical response to ethanol gas species. The sensor exhibited a sensitivity of a factor of ≈2 to 44 ppm of ethanol at ≈200 °C as measured by a rise in the layer resistivity according to the p-type character of the material. At the higher temperature of ≈350 °C, the sensor turned to n-type as without doping. This behavior was related to a loss of nitrogen content inside the film during the annealing. It was indeed proved that p-type doping of a gig-lox sponge during growth is feasible, even at room temperature, without losing the layer porosity and the capability to host and detect environmental species. Moreover, the material integration on a device is simply done as the last production step. Easy TiO2 doping procedures, combined with porosity, are of general purpose and interest for several applications even on flexible substrates. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nanotechnology Efforts for Chemical Sensors)
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Open AccessArticle Deposition Time and Annealing Effects of ZnO Seed Layer on Enhancing Vertical Alignment of Piezoelectric ZnO Nanowires
Received: 29 December 2018 / Revised: 6 February 2019 / Accepted: 11 February 2019 / Published: 13 February 2019
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Abstract
Well aligned crystalline zinc oxide (ZnO) nanowires (NWs) on ZnO/Au/Ti/Si substrates were grown by so-called “hydrothermal synthesis”. ZnO seed layers with different thicknesses ranging from 5 to 100 nm, achieved by controlling the deposition time, were prepared by radio-frequency sputtering, followed by a [...] Read more.
Well aligned crystalline zinc oxide (ZnO) nanowires (NWs) on ZnO/Au/Ti/Si substrates were grown by so-called “hydrothermal synthesis”. ZnO seed layers with different thicknesses ranging from 5 to 100 nm, achieved by controlling the deposition time, were prepared by radio-frequency sputtering, followed by a post-annealing treatment in air at 400 °C. The effects of deposition time and annealing treatment of ZnO seed layers on the subsequent growth of ZnO NWs were investigated using X-ray diffraction (XRD), atomic force microscopy (AFM), and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). The experimental results reveal that the quality and growth behaviors of ZnO NWs are strongly dependent on both the thickness and the heat treatment of the ZnO seed layers. This work is an optimization step of an easy, cost-effective, and industrially scalable process flow recently developed for the fabrication of a high performance, nanocomposite-based stretchable nanogenerator (SNG) on polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) substrate. The morphological improvement of hydrothermally grown ZnO NWs may therefore lead to higher performance SNGs for the targeted application of mechanical energy harvesting, in order to supply flexible and wearable electronics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nanotechnology Efforts for Chemical Sensors)
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Open AccessArticle Real-Time Frequency Tracking of an Electro-Thermal Piezoresistive Cantilever Resonator with ZnO Nanorods for Chemical Sensing
Received: 29 October 2018 / Revised: 21 December 2018 / Accepted: 24 December 2018 / Published: 3 January 2019
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Abstract
The asymmetric resonance response in electro-thermal piezoresistive cantilever resonators causes a need of an optimization treatment for taking parasitic actuation-sensing effects into account. An electronic reference circuit for signal subtraction, integrated with the cantilever resonator has the capability to reduce the effect of [...] Read more.
The asymmetric resonance response in electro-thermal piezoresistive cantilever resonators causes a need of an optimization treatment for taking parasitic actuation-sensing effects into account. An electronic reference circuit for signal subtraction, integrated with the cantilever resonator has the capability to reduce the effect of parasitic coupling. Measurement results demonstrated that a symmetric amplitude shape (Lorentzian) and an optimized phase characteristic (i.e., monotonically decreasing) were successfully extracted from an asymmetric resonance response. With the monotonic phase response, real-time frequency tracking can be easier to implement using a phase-locked loop (PLL) system. In this work, an electro-thermal piezoresistive cantilever resonator functionalized with self-assembled monolayers of chitosan-covered ZnO nanorod arrays as sensitive layers has been investigated under different relative humidity (rH) levels. Enhancement of resonance phase response has been demonstrated by implementing the reference signal subtraction. Subsequently, a lock-in amplifier integrated with PLL system (MFLI, Zurich Instruments, Zurich, Switzerland) was then employed for continuously tracking the resonant frequency. As a result, we find a good correlation of frequency shift (∆f0) with change in rH monitored using a commercial reference sensor. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nanotechnology Efforts for Chemical Sensors)
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Open AccessArticle Nanostructured Nickel on Porous Carbon-Silica Matrix as an Efficient Electrocatalytic Material for a Non-Enzymatic Glucose Sensor
Chemosensors 2018, 6(4), 54; https://doi.org/10.3390/chemosensors6040054
Received: 24 September 2018 / Revised: 28 October 2018 / Accepted: 9 November 2018 / Published: 16 November 2018
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (2568 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Nanostructured nickel on porous carbon-silica matrix (N-CS) has been synthesized using a sol gel process and subsequent pyrolysis treatment at a temperature of 650 °C. The morphology and microstructure of the N-CS sample has been investigated using XRD (X-ray Diffraction), SEM-EDS (Scanning Electron [...] Read more.
Nanostructured nickel on porous carbon-silica matrix (N-CS) has been synthesized using a sol gel process and subsequent pyrolysis treatment at a temperature of 650 °C. The morphology and microstructure of the N-CS sample has been investigated using XRD (X-ray Diffraction), SEM-EDS (Scanning Electron Microscopy-Energy Dispersive X-ray Spectroscopy), and BET (Brunauer-Emmett-Teller) analysis. The synthesized nanocomposite has been used for developing NCS-modified screen-printed electrodes (NCS-SPCEs) and was applied in the electrochemical monitoring of glucose. After electrochemical activation, via cycling the modified electrode in a potential window from 0 to 0.8 V in 0.1 M KOH solution, the fabricated NCS-SPCEs electrodes were evaluated for the voltammetric and amperometric determination of glucose. The developed sensors showed good sensing performance towards glucose, displaying a sensitivity of 585 µA/mM cm−1 in the linear range from 0.05 to 1.5 mM, a detection limit lower than 30 µM with excellent selectivity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nanotechnology Efforts for Chemical Sensors)
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Review

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Open AccessReview Carbon Nanostructures as a Multi-Functional Platform for Sensing Applications
Chemosensors 2018, 6(4), 60; https://doi.org/10.3390/chemosensors6040060
Received: 30 October 2018 / Revised: 23 November 2018 / Accepted: 28 November 2018 / Published: 5 December 2018
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Abstract
The various forms of carbon nanostructures are providing extraordinary new opportunities that can revolutionize the way gas sensors, electrochemical sensors and biosensors are engineered. The great potential of carbon nanostructures as a sensing platform is exciting due to their unique electrical and chemical [...] Read more.
The various forms of carbon nanostructures are providing extraordinary new opportunities that can revolutionize the way gas sensors, electrochemical sensors and biosensors are engineered. The great potential of carbon nanostructures as a sensing platform is exciting due to their unique electrical and chemical properties, highly scalable, biocompatible and particularly interesting due to the almost infinite possibility of functionalization with a wide variety of inorganic nanostructured materials and biomolecules. This opens a whole new pallet of specificity into sensors that can be extremely sensitive, durable and that can be incorporated into the ongoing new generation of wearable technology. Within this context, carbon-based nanostructures are amongst the most promising structures to be incorporated in a multi-functional platform for sensing. The present review discusses the various 1D, 2D and 3D carbon nanostructure forms incorporated into different sensor types as well as the novel functionalization approaches that allow such multi-functionality. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nanotechnology Efforts for Chemical Sensors)
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Open AccessReview Functionalization of Bulk SiO2 Surface with Biomolecules for Sensing Applications: Structural and Functional Characterizations
Chemosensors 2018, 6(4), 59; https://doi.org/10.3390/chemosensors6040059
Received: 31 October 2018 / Revised: 27 November 2018 / Accepted: 27 November 2018 / Published: 30 November 2018
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Abstract
Biomolecule immobilization on bulk silicon dioxide (SiO2) is an important aspect in the field of Si-based interfaces for biosensing. The approach used for surface preparation should guarantee not only the stable anchoring of biomolecules but also their structural integrity and biological [...] Read more.
Biomolecule immobilization on bulk silicon dioxide (SiO2) is an important aspect in the field of Si-based interfaces for biosensing. The approach used for surface preparation should guarantee not only the stable anchoring of biomolecules but also their structural integrity and biological functioning. In this paper, we review our findings on the SiO2 functionalization process to immobilize a variety of biomolecules, including glucose oxidase, horseradish peroxide, metallothionein, and DNA molecules. Morphological and chemical characterization of SiO2 surfaces after biomolecule immobilization using techniques already employed in the microelectronic industry are presented and discussed. Optical and spectrophotometric analysis revealed the preservation of biomolecules’ activity once they are anchored on the biointerface. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nanotechnology Efforts for Chemical Sensors)
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