A CO2 sensor made of nano crystalline CuO–BaTiO3 semiconductor, which has a giant capacitance effect, is designed based on the principle of the physical effect in the nano cluster. After an experimental investigation of its microstructure, the correlation between the quantum size effect and the giant capacitance effect is suggested. The characteristic physical quantities relating to the giant capacitance effect of the sensor are studied systematically with the aid of a gas detector. The quantum size effect is introduced as an interpretation for the mechanism of the giant capacitance effect and a model is proposed for describing the giant capacitance effect of the sensor. © 2000 American Institute of Physics.