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Hypergolic fuel detection using individual single walled carbon nanotube networks

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7 Author(s)
Desai, S.C. ; Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky 40292, USA ; Willitsford, A.H. ; Sumanasekera, G.U. ; Yu, M.
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Accurate and reliable detection of hypergolic fuels such as hydrazine (N2H4) and its derivatives is vital to missile defense, aviation, homeland security, and the chemical industry. More importantly these sensors need to be capable of operation at low temperatures (below room temperature) as most of the widely used chemical sensors operate at high temperatures (above 300 °C). In this research a simple and highly sensitive single walled carbon nanotube (SWNT) network sensor was developed for real time monitoring of hydrazine leaks to concentrations at parts per million levels. Upon exposure to hydrazine vapor, the resistance of the air exposed nanotubes (p-type) is observed to increase rapidly while that of the vacuum-degassed nanotubes (n-type) is observed to decrease. It was found that the resistance of the sample can be recovered through vacuum pumping and exposure to ultraviolet light. The experimental results support the electrochemical charge transfer mechanism between the oxygen redox couple of the ambient and the Fermi level of the SWNT. Theoretical results of the hydrazine-SWNT interaction are compared with the experimental observations. It was found that a monolayer of water molecules on the SWNT is necessary to induce strong interactions between hydrazine and the SWNT by way of introducing new occupied states near the bottom of the conduction band of the SWNT.

Published in:

Journal of Applied Physics  (Volume:107 ,  Issue: 11 )