Rationally Designed PdAuCu Ternary Alloy Nanoparticles for Intrinsically Deactivation-Resistant Ultrafast Plasmonic Hydrogen Sensing
Journal article, 2019
Hydrogen sensors are a prerequisite for the implementation of a hydrogen economy due to the high flammability of hydrogen-air mixtures. They are to comply with the increasingly stringent requirements set by stakeholders, such as the automotive industry and manufacturers of hydrogen safety systems, where sensor deactivation is a severe but widely unaddressed problem. In response, we report intrinsically deactivation-resistant nanoplasmonic hydrogen sensors enabled by a rationally designed ternary PdAuCu alloy nanomaterial, which combines the identified best intrinsic attributes of the constituent binary Pd alloys. This way, we achieve extraordinary hydrogen sensing metrics in synthetic air and poisoning gas background, simulating real application conditions. Specifically, we find a detection limit in the low ppm range, hysteresis-free response over 5 orders of magnitude hydrogen pressure, subsecond response time at room temperature, long-term stability, and, as the key, excellent resistance to deactivating species like carbon monoxide, notably without application of any protective coatings. This constitutes an important step forward for optical hydrogen sensor technology, as it enables application under demanding conditions and provides a blueprint for further material and performance optimization by combining and concerting intrinsic material assets in multicomponent nanoparticles. In a wider context, our findings highlight the potential of rational materials design through alloying of multiple elements for gas sensor development, as well as the potential of engineered metal alloy nanoparticles in nanoplasmonics and catalysis.