Resistive and Capacitive Measurement of Nano-Structured Gas Sensors

  • Partha Bhattacharyya
  • Debanjan Acharyya
  • Koushik Dutta
Part of the Environmental Chemistry for a Sustainable World book series (ECSW, volume 21)


With the advent of industrial renaissance and world population exploration, atmospheric pollution is being elevated beyond the predicted roadmap. Development of effective and inexpensive systems for detection as well as selective quantification of environmentally hazardous species (i.e. NO2, NO, N2O, H2S, CO, NH3, CH4, CO2, volatile organic compounds etc.), for industrial and domestic air quality monitoring, are the timely demand. Presently, the most reliable gas measurement techniques are optical spectroscopy, infra-red spectroscopy and gas chromatography/spectroscopy; which are precise but non-portable, expertize is needed to operate these systems and are expensive ones also. As a cost effective alternative, solid-state gas sensors (with nanostructured material(s) as the sensing layer) have widely been researched for environmental gas detection offering promisingly high sensitivity with easy portability. However, solid-state gas sensors often suffer from the limitations like, high operating temperature, low carrier mobility and poor selectivity. To mitigate these glitches, various types of gas sensors have been reported by tuning the properties of the sensing materials and/or by employing different transduction/measurement strategies. The major transduction/measurement types include resistive type (includes planar, metal insulator metal, junction, field effect transistor based device structure), capacitive type, surface acoustic wave (SAW) type, quartz crystal microbalance (QCM) type and electrochemical type. Among these techniques, resistive and capacitive type sensors have already been proved to be the potential candidate due to simple electronic interface, ease of use/portability and low maintenance cost. However, for the last three or four decades, most widely investigated/employed transducing technique is the resistive mode/conductometric sensing measurement, unfortunately analysis of which does not provide any information regarding the device parasitic capacitance, and hence fails to correlate the transient response of the device because the equivalent circuit of the device cannot be derived in a quantitative manner (only partial and qualitative explanation is possible). Thus, without proper understanding (quantitative) of underlying sensing mechanism/physics, no efficient sensor device can be fabricated with a predefined functionality. While several review/book chapters have so far been published on theory, synthesis and influence of different nanostructures for gas sensing applications, no work has so far been published by critically discussing the prospects and the constraints of resistive and capacitive type transduction/measurement techniques.

In this book chapter, a comprehensive review on the resistive and the capacitive transducing/measurement technique is reported with a focus on the specific advantages of the later over the earlier one. Relatively less explored capacitive measurement technique (depending on the change in dielectric constant of the sensing layer due to gas exposure) allows one to comment quantitatively on the equivalent circuit parameters/elements, in reference ambient (as well as the change in the same due to gas exposure), through the ac impedance (modulus and argument) analysis. As a result, efficient material design (of the nanostructures) can be executed according to the requirement of a specific application through judicious quantitative analysis of the equivalent circuit elements. The capacitive sensing technique is privileged by another dimension of measurement (i.e. the input signal frequency) which in turn paves the path for frequency selective sensing by proper tuning of the resonant frequency. However, the capacitive measurement also faces difficulty in case of test species having lower dipole moments, yielding lower sensitivity and lower selectivity. Therefore, optimization and combination of the two measurement techniques, applied to the sensor array, creates the opportunity for the proper selective detection of a particular vapor species.


Nanostructures Resistive measurements Capacitive measurements Device structures Dielectric constant Resonant frequency Equivalent circuit Comparison 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Partha Bhattacharyya
    • 1
  • Debanjan Acharyya
    • 1
  • Koushik Dutta
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Electronics and Telecommunication EngineeringIndian Institute of Engineering Science and Technology, ShibpurHowrahIndia

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