The use of nanostructured materials presents industry with a number of
important benefits across a myriad of different applications:
miniaturisation, material cost savings, lower energy consumption, and
new physical and chemical properties due to nanoscale effects. This is
true for the development of the classical electrochemical sensor market.
Much of the work on nanomaterials for sensor devices has been in the
early technical readiness stages and has not been commercially applied.
Studies have focused on improving sensor characteristics and, for
potentiometric ion-conducting oxygen sensors, we can consider the use of
nanomaterials, in the following 3 areas:
lowering electrode impedance, through increasing the density of
triple phase boundary sites for the dispersed metal – yttria
stabilised zirconia support and
gas phase, (TBP) ensuring a good response time through lowering the
double layer capacitance,
improving gas selectivity for oxygen or other gases by enhancing
catalysis in the electrodes through elevated activities from a
higher surface area to volume ratio,
3) for producing thin film
electrolytes, to lower the activation energy for ionic conduction
and thus enabling lower operation temperatures; yttria
thin film materials with grain sizes controlled in the sub-micron
range have been shown to significantly lower the activation energy
for ionic conductivity.