Graphene Based Sensors for Air Quality Monitoring - Preliminary Development Evaluation


  • Denise Machado Centre for Mechanical Technology and Automation (TEMA), Department of Mechanical engineering, University of Aveiro, 3810-193 Aveiro, Portugal; Aveiro Institute of Materials (CICECO), Department of Materials and Ceramic Engineering, University of Aveiro, 3810-193 Aveiro
  • Maria J. Hortigüela Centre for Mechanical Technology and Automation (TEMA), Department of Mechanical engineering, University of Aveiro, 3810-193 Aveiro
  • Gonzalo Otero- Irurueta Centre for Mechanical Technology and Automation (TEMA), Department of Mechanical engineering, University of Aveiro, 3810-193 Aveiro
  • Paula A.A.P. Marques Centre for Mechanical Technology and Automation (TEMA), Department of Mechanical engineering, University of Aveiro, 3810-193 Aveiro
  • Ricardo Silva Aveiro Institute of Materials (CICECO), Department of Materials and Ceramic Engineering, University of Aveiro, 3810-193 Aveiro
  • Rui F. Silva Aveiro Institute of Materials (CICECO), Department of Materials and Ceramic Engineering, University of Aveiro, 3810-193 Aveiro
  • Victor Neto Centre for Mechanical Technology and Automation (TEMA), Department of Mechanical engineering, University of Aveiro, 3810-193 Aveiro



Pollution, health, graphene, gas, sensors.


Indoor air pollution can induce adverse health effects on building occupants and pose a significant role in health worldwide. To avoid such effects, it is extremely important to monitor and control common indoor pollutants such as CO2, VOCs and relative humidity. Therefore, this work focuses on recent advances in the field of graphene-based gas sensors, emphasizing the use of modified graphene that broadly expands the range of nanomaterials sensors. Graphene films were grown on copper by chemical vapor deposition (CVD) and transferred to arbitrary substrates. After synthesis, the samples were functionalized with Al2O3 by ALD and characterized by a large set of experimental techniques such as XPS, Raman and SEM. The results demonstrated that graphene was successfully synthesized and transferred to SiO2, glass and polymer. As a proof-of-concept, ALD of Al2O3 was performed on the graphene surface to produce a graphene/metal oxide nanostructure towards the development of nanocomposites for gas sensing. From this perspective, a laboratory prototype device based in measuring the electrical properties of the graphene sample as a function of the gas absorption is under development.


[1] Wei W, Ramalho O, Mandin C. Indoor air quality requirements in green building certifications. Build and Environ 2015; 92: 10-9.
[2] Ghebreyesus TA, Al-Ansary LA, Grove JT. World health statistics 2018. World Health Organization; 2018.
[3] Air Quality - Existing Legislation, E. Commission [Internet]. 2017. Available from: leg.htm
[4] Arroyo P, Lozano J, Suárez JI, Herrero JL, Carmona P. Wireless Sensor Network for Air Quality Monitoring and Control. Chem Eng Trans 2016; 54: 217-22.
[5] Kataoka H, Ohashi Y, Mamiya T, et al. Indoor Air Monitoring of Volatile Organic Compounds and Evaluation of Their Emission from Various Building Materials and Common Products by Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry. In: Advanced Gas Chromatography - Progress in Agricultural Biomedical and Industrial Applications, Dr. Mustafa Ali Mohd, editor. InTech 2010; p 161-84.
[6] Parks H, Needham W, Rajaram S, et al. Semiconductor Manufacturing. In: The electrical engineering Handbook. Electronics, Power Electronics, Optoelectronics, Microwaves, Electromagnetics, and Radar. 3rd ed. Boca Raton: Taylor & Francis Group, LLC 2006; p 64-132.
[7] Xiao Z, Kong LB, Ruan S, et al. Recent Development in Nanocarbon Materials for Gas Sensor Applications. Sens Actuators B Chem 2018; 274: 235-67.
[8] Medvedeva E, Baranov A, Somov A. Design and investigation of thin film nanocomposite electrodes for electrochemical sensors. Sens Actuators B Chem 2016; 236: 858-64.
[9] Hung CM, Thi D, Le T, Hieu N Van. On-chip growth of semiconductor metal oxide nanowires for gas sensors?: A review. Journal of Science: Advanced Materials and Devices 2017; 2: 263-85.
[10] Ouyang Y, Wang X, Yu G, Song Z, Zhang X. Performance of Amperometric and Potentiometric Hydrogen Sensors. J Mater Sci Technol 2014; 30: 1160-65.
[11] Li C, Shi G. Carbon nanotube-based fluorescence sensors. J Photochem Photobiol C 2014; 19: 20-34.
[12] Barsan N, Koziej D, Weimar U. Metal oxide-based gas sensor research: How to?. Sens Actuators B Chem 2007; 121: 18-35.
[13] Kanan SM, El-Kadri OM, Abu-Yousef IA, Kanan MC. Semiconducting metal oxide based sensors for selective gas pollutant detection. Sensors 2009; 9: 8158-96.
[14] Caron A, Redon N, Thevenet F, Hanoune B, Coddeville P. Performances and limitations of electronic gas sensors to investigate an indoor air quality event. Build Environ 2016; 107: 19-28.
[15] Ampuero S, Bosset JO. The electronic nose applied to dairy products: A review. Sens Actuators B Chem 2003; 94: 1-12.
[16] Atta NF, Galal A, El-Ads EH. Graphene - A Platform for Sensors and Biosensors Applications. In: Biosensors - Micro and Nanoscale Applications. Intech 2015; p 37 - 84.
[17] Jiang W-S, Xin W, Xun S, et al. Reduced graphene oxide-based optical sensor for detecting specific protein. Sens Actuators B Chem 2017; 249: 142-48.
[18] Gutierrez F, Gonzalez-Dominguez JM, Ansón-Casaos A, et al. Single-walled carbon nanotubes covalently functionalized with cysteine: A new alternative for the highly sensitive and selective Cd(II) quantification. Sens Actuators B Chem 2017; 249: 506-14.
[19] Liu CS, Jia R, Ye XJ, Zeng Z. Non-hexagonal symmetry-induced functional T graphene for the detection of carbon monoxide. J Chem Phys 2013; 139: 1-7.
[20] Kumar P, Skouloudis AN, Bell M, et al. Real-time sensors for indoor air monitoring and challenges ahead in deploying them to urban buildings. Sci Total Environ 2016; 560: 150-59.
[21] Mead MI, Popoola OAM, Stewart GB, et al. The use of electrochemical sensors for monitoring urban air quality in low-cost, high-density networks. Atmos Environ 2013; 70: 186-203.

[22] Kumar P, Pirjola L, Ketzel M, Harrison RM. Nanoparticle emissions from 11 non-vehicle exhaust sources - A review. Atmos Environ 2013; 67: 252-77.
[23] Wolkoff P. Indoor air pollutants in office environments: Assessment of comfort, heath, and performance. Int J Hyg Environ Health 2013; 216: 371-94.
[24] U.S.EPA. Federal Register: rules and regulations. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Air quality index reporting. Fed Regist. 1999; 73: 74932-43.
[25] Kumar P, Morawska L, Martani C, et al. The rise of low-cost sensing for managing air pollution in cities. Environ Int 2015; 75: 199-205.
[26] Capone S, Forleo A, Francioso L, et al. Solid State Gas Sensors: State of the Art and Future Activities. Journal of optoelectronics and Advanced Materials 2004; 5: 1335-348.
[27] Varghese SS, Lonkar S, Singh KK, Swaminathan S, Abdala A. Recent advances in graphene based gas sensors. Sens Actuators B Chem 2015; 218:160-83.
[28] Justino CIL, Gomes AR, Freitas AC, Duarte AC, Rocha-Santos TAP. Graphene based sensors and biosensors. Trends Analyt Chem 2017; 91: 53-66.
[29] Bollella P, Fusco G, Tortolini C, et al. Beyond graphene: Electrochemical sensors and biosensors for biomarkers detection. Biosens Bioelectron 2017; 89: 152-66.
[30] Wang T, Huang D, Yang Z, et al. A Review on Graphene-Based Gas/Vapor Sensors with Unique Properties and Potential Applications. Nano-Micro Lett 2016; 8: 95-119.
[31] Tricoli A, Righettoni M, Teleki A. Semiconductor Gas Sensors: Dry Synthesis and Application. Angew Chem Int Ed Engl 2010; 49: 7632-59.
[32] Jiménez-Cadena G, Riu J, Rius FX. Gas sensors based on nanostructured materials. Analyst 2007; 132: 1083-99.
[33] Chaika AN, Aristov VY, Molodtsova OV. Graphene on cubic-SiC. Prog Mater Sci 2017; 89: 1-30.
[34] He Q, Wu S, Yin Z, Zhang H. Graphene-based electronic sensors. Chem Sci 2012; 3: 1764-72.
[35] Kulkarni GS, Reddy K, Zhong Z, Fan X. Graphene nanoelectronic heterodyne sensor for rapid and sensitive vapour detection. Nat Commun 2014; 5: 1-7.
[36] Ghany NA, Elsherif SA, Handal HT. Revolution of Graphene for different applications: State-of-the-art. Surfaces and Interfaces 2017; 9: 93-106.
[37] Pumera M, Ambrosi A, Bonanni A, Chng ELK, Poh HL. Graphene for electrochemical sensing and biosensing. Trends Analyt Chem 2010; 29: 954-65.
[38] Kaur G, Gupta S, Dharamvir K. Theoretical investigation of adsorption of gas molecules on Li metal adsorbed at H-site of graphene?: A search for graphene based gas sensors. Surfaces and Interfaces 2017; 8: 83-90.
[39] Schedin F, Geim AK, Morozov SV, et al. Detection of individual gas molecules adsorbed on graphene. Nat Mater 2007; 6: 652-5.
[40] Phiri J, Gane P, Maloney TC. General overview of graphene: Production, properties and application in polymer composites. Mater Sci Eng B Solid State Mater Adv Technol 2017; 215: 9-28.
[41] Geim AK, Novoselov KS. The rise of graphene. Nat Mater 2007; 6: 183-91.
[42] Chen X, Wu G, Jiang Y, Wang Y, Chen X. Graphene and graphene-based nanomaterials: the promising materials for bright future of electroanalytical chemistry. Analyst 2011; 136: 4631-40.
[43] Mattevi C, Kim H, Chhowalla M. A review of chemical vapour deposition of graphene on copper. J Mater Chem 2011; 21: 3324-34.
[44] Kim KS, Zhao Y, Jang H, et al. Large-scale pattern growth of graphene films for stretchable transparent electrodes. Nature 2009; 457: 706-10.
[45] Li X, Cai W, An J, Kim S, Nah J, Yang D, et al. Large-Area Synthesis of High-Quality and Uniform Graphene Films on Copper Foils. Science 2009; 324: 1312-4.
[46] Nam J, Kim DC, Yun H, et al. Chemical vapor deposition of graphene on platinum: Growth and substrate interaction. Carbon N Y 2017; 111: 733-40.
[47] Geim AK. Graphene: status and prospects. Prospects 2009; 324: 1-8.
[48] Mu W, Fu Y, Sun S, et al. Controllable and fast synthesis of bilayer graphene by chemical vapor deposition on copper foil using a cold wall reactor. Chem Eng J 2016; 304: 106-14.
[49] Zhang Y, Chen Y, Zhou K, Liu C. Improving gas sensing properties of graphene by introducing dopants and defects?: a first-principles study. Nanotechnology 2009; 20: 1-8.
[50] Nayak PK, Wang Z, Hedhili MN, Wang QX, Alshareef HN. Semiconductor (CMOS) Device Using a Single-Step Deposition of the Channel Layer. Sci Rep 2014; 4: 1-7.
[51] Cadore AR, Mania E, Alencar AB, et al. Enhancing the response of NH3 graphene-sensors by using devices with different graphene-substrate distances. Sens Actuators B Chem 2018; 1-19.
[52] Axet MR, Bacsa RR, Machado BF, Serp P. Adsorption on and reactivity of carbon nanotubes and graphene. In: Kadish K, D’souza F, editors. Handbook of Carbon Nano Materials. World Scientific 2014; p. 39-183.
[53] Aroutiounian V. Band Gap Opening in Graphene. Armen J Phys 2013; 6: 141-8.

[54] Varghese SS, Varghese SH, Swaminathan S, Singh KK, Mittal V. Two-Dimensional Materials for Sensing: Graphene and Beyond. Electronics 2015; 4: 651-87.
[55] Knez M, Nielsch K, Niinistö L. Synthesis and surface engineering of complex nanostructures by atomic layer deposition. Adv Mater 2007; 19: 3425-38.
[56] Marichy C, Pinna N. Carbon-nanostructures coated/decorated by atomic layer deposition?: Growth and applications. Coord Chem Rev 2013; 257: 3232-53.
[57] George SM. Atomic Layer Deposition?: An Overview. Chem Rev 2010; 110: 111- 31.
[58] Elam JW, Groner MD, George SM. Viscous flow reactor with quartz crystal microbalance for thin film growth by atomic layer deposition. Rev Sci Instrum 2013; 73: 2981-7.
[59] Meng X, Byun Y, Kim HS, et al. Atomic Layer Deposition of Silicon Nitride Thin Films?: A Review of Recent Progress, Challenges, and Outlooks. Materials (Basel) 2016; 9: 1-20.
[60] Kim H, Lee HBR, Maeng WJ. Applications of atomic layer deposition to nanofabrication and emerging nanodevices. Thin Solid Films 2009; 517: 2563-80.
[61] Neri G, Bonavita A, Rizzo G, et al. Towards enhanced performances in gas sensing: SnO2 based nanocrystalline oxides application. Sens Actuators B Chem 2007; 122: 564-71.
[62] Gopel W, Schierbaum K. SNO2 sensors: current status and future prospects. Sens Actuators B Chem. 1995; 27: 1-12.
[63] Ferrari AC, Basko DM. Raman spectroscopy as a versatile tool for studying the properties of graphene. Nat Nanotechnol 2013; 8: 235-46.
[64] Nayak P, Caraveo-Frescas J, Wang Z, et al. Thin Film Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor (CMOS) Device Using a Single-Step Deposition of the Channel Layer. Sci Rep 2014; 4: 1-7.