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1.  Study of a QCM Dimethyl Methylphosphonate Sensor Based on a ZnO-Modified Nanowire-Structured Manganese Dioxide Film 
Sensors (Basel, Switzerland)  2010;10(9):8275-8290.
Sensitive, selective and fast detection of chemical warfare agents is necessary for anti-terrorism purposes. In our search for functional materials sensitive to dimethyl methylphosphonate (DMMP), a simulant of sarin and other toxic organophosphorus compounds, we found that zinc oxide (ZnO) modification potentially enhances the absorption of DMMP on a manganese dioxide (MnO2) surface. The adsorption behavior of DMMP was evaluated through the detection of tiny organophosphonate compounds with quartz crystal microbalance (QCM) sensors coated with ZnO-modified MnO2 nanofibers and pure MnO2 nanofibers. Experimental results indicated that the QCM sensor coated with ZnO-modified nanostructured MnO2 film exhibited much higher sensitivity and better selectivity in comparison with the one coated with pure MnO2 nanofiber film. Therefore, the DMMP sensor developed with this composite nanostructured material should possess excellent selectivity and reasonable sensitivity towards the tiny gaseous DMMP species.
doi:10.3390/s100908275
PMCID: PMC3231230  PMID: 22163653
quartz crystal microbalance; gas sensor; volatile organic vapor; DMMP; nanowire; manganese dioxide; zinc oxide
2.  Effects of Textural Properties on the Response of a SnO2-Based Gas Sensor for the Detection of Chemical Warfare Agents 
Sensors (Basel, Switzerland)  2011;11(7):6893-6904.
The sensing behavior of SnO2-based thick film gas sensors in a flow system in the presence of a very low concentration (ppb level) of chemical agent simulants such as acetonitrile, dipropylene glycol methyl ether (DPGME), dimethyl methylphosphonate (DMMP), and dichloromethane (DCM) was investigated. Commercial SnO2 [SnO2(C)] and nano-SnO2 prepared by the precipitation method [SnO2(P)] were used to prepare the SnO2 sensor in this study. In the case of DCM and acetonitrile, the SnO2(P) sensor showed higher sensor response as compared with the SnO2(C) sensors. In the case of DMMP and DPGME, however, the SnO2(C) sensor showed higher responses than those of the SnO2(P) sensors. In particular, the response of the SnO2(P) sensor increased as the calcination temperature increased from 400 °C to 800 °C. These results can be explained by the fact that the response of the SnO2-based gas sensor depends on the textural properties of tin oxide and the molecular size of the chemical agent simulant in the detection of the simulant gases (0.1–0.5 ppm).
doi:10.3390/s110706893
PMCID: PMC3231691  PMID: 22163991
sensor; SnO2; sensor response; chemical agent simulant
3.  Designing Hollow Nano Gold Golf Balls 
ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces  2014;6(13):9937-9941.
Hollow/porous nanoparticles, including nanocarriers, nanoshells, and mesoporous materials have applications in catalysis, photonics, biosensing, and delivery of theranostic agents. Using a hierarchical template synthesis scheme, we have synthesized a nanocarrier mimicking a golf ball, consisting of (i) solid silica core with a pitted gold surface and (ii) a hollow/porous gold shell without silica. The template consisted of 100 nm polystyrene beads attached to a larger silica core. Selective gold plating of the core followed by removal of the polystyrene beads produced a golf ball-like nanostructure with 100 nm pits. Dissolution of the silica core produced a hollow/porous golf ball-like nanostructure.
doi:10.1021/am502519x
PMCID: PMC4334244  PMID: 24937196
hollow; porous; nanocarrier; gold shell; template; hierarchical
4.  Hierarchical Thin Film Architectures for Enhanced Sensor Performance: Liquid Crystal-Mediated Electrochemical Synthesis of Nanostructured Imprinted Polymer Films for the Selective Recognition of Bupivacaine 
Biosensors  2014;4(2):90-110.
Nanostructured bupivacaine-selective molecularly imprinted 3-aminophenylboronic acid-p-phenylenediamine co-polymer (MIP) films have been prepared on gold-coated quartz (Au/quartz) resonators by electrochemical synthesis under cyclic voltammetric conditions in a liquid crystalline (LC) medium (triton X-100/water). Films prepared in water and in the absence of template were used for control studies. Infrared spectroscopic studies demonstrated comparable chemical compositions for LC and control polymer films. SEM studies revealed that the topologies of the molecularly imprinted polymer films prepared in the LC medium (LC-MIP) exhibit discernible 40 nm thick nano-fiber structures, quite unlike the polymers prepared in the absence of the LC-phase. The sensitivity of the LC-MIP in a quartz crystal microbalance (QCM) sensor platform was 67.6 ± 4.9 Hz/mM under flow injection analysis (FIA) conditions, which was ≈250% higher than for the sensor prepared using the aqueous medium. Detection was possible at 100 nM (30 ng/mL), and discrimination of bupivacaine from closely related structural analogs was readily achieved as reflected in the corresponding stability constants of the MIP-analyte complexes. The facile fabrication and significant enhancement in sensor sensitivity together highlight the potential of this LC-based imprinting strategy for fabrication of polymeric materials with hierarchical architectures, in particular for use in surface-dependent application areas, e.g., biomaterials or sensing.
doi:10.3390/bios4020090
PMCID: PMC4264373  PMID: 25587412
bupivacaine; electropolymerization; liquid crystal; molecularly imprinted polymer; nanostructured polymer films; piezoelectric sensor; quartz crystal microbalance
5.  Enhanced Dibutyl Phthalate Sensing Performance of a Quartz Crystal Microbalance Coated with Au-Decorated ZnO Porous Microspheres 
Sensors (Basel, Switzerland)  2015;15(9):21153-21168.
Noble metals addition on nanostructured metal oxides is an attractive way to enhance gas sensing properties. Herein, hierarchical zinc oxide (ZnO) porous microspheres decorated with cubic gold particles (Au particles) were synthesized using a facile hydrothermal method. The as-prepared Au-decorated ZnO was then utilized as the sensing film of a gas sensor based on a quartz crystal microbalance (QCM). This fabricated sensor was applied to detect dibutyl phthalate (DBP), which is a widely used plasticizer, and its coating load was optimized. When tested at room temperature, the sensor exhibited a high sensitivity of 38.10 Hz/ppb to DBP in a low concentration range from 2 ppb to 30 ppb and the calculated theoretical detection limit is below 1 ppb. It maintains good repeatability as well as long-term stability. Compared with the undecorated ZnO based QCM, the Au-decorated one achieved a 1.62-time enhancement in sensitivity to DBP, and the selectivity was also improved. According to the experimental results, Au-functionalized ZnO porous microspheres displayed superior sensing performance towards DBP, indicating its potential use in monitoring plasticizers in the gaseous state. Moreover, Au decoration of porous metal oxide nanostructures is proved to be an effective approach for enhancing the gas sensing properties and the corresponding mechanism was investigated.
doi:10.3390/s150921153
PMCID: PMC4610551  PMID: 26343661
ZnO porous microspheres; Au-decorated; dibutyl phthalate; gas sensor; quartz crystal microbalance (QCM)
6.  The Different Sensitive Behaviors of a Hydrogen-Bond Acidic Polymer-Coated SAW Sensor for Chemical Warfare Agents and Their Simulants 
Sensors (Basel, Switzerland)  2015;15(8):18302-18314.
A linear hydrogen-bond acidic (HBA) linear functionalized polymer (PLF), was deposited onto a bare surface acoustic wave (SAW) device to fabricate a chemical sensor. Real-time responses of the sensor to a series of compounds including sarin (GB), dimethyl methylphosphonate (DMMP), mustard gas (HD), chloroethyl ethyl sulphide (2-CEES), 1,5-dichloropentane (DCP) and some organic solvents were studied. The results show that the sensor is highly sensitive to GB and DMMP, and has low sensitivity to HD and DCP, as expected. However, the sensor possesses an unexpected high sensitivity toward 2-CEES. This good sensing performance can’t be solely or mainly attributed to the dipole-dipole interaction since the sensor is not sensitive to some high polarity solvents. We believe the lone pair electrons around the sulphur atom of 2-CEES provide an electron-rich site, which facilitates the formation of hydrogen bonding between PLF and 2-CEES. On the contrary, the electron cloud on the sulphur atom of the HD molecule is offset or depleted by its two neighbouring strong electron-withdrawing groups, hence, hydrogen bonding can hardly be formed.
doi:10.3390/s150818302
PMCID: PMC4570322  PMID: 26225975
hydrogen-bond acidic polymer; chemical sensor; SAW
7.  Selective Surface Acoustic Wave-Based Organophosphorus Sensor Employing a Host-Guest Self-Assembly Monolayer of β-Cyclodextrin Derivative 
Sensors (Basel, Switzerland)  2015;15(8):17916-17925.
Self-assembly and molecular imprinting technologies are very attractive technologies for the development of artificial recognition systems and provide chemical recognition based on need and not happenstance. In this paper, we employed a β-cyclodextrin derivative surface acoustic wave (SAW) chemical sensor for detecting the chemical warfare agents (CWAs) sarin (O-Isoprophyl methylphosphonofluoridate, GB). Using sarin acid (isoprophyl hydrogen methylphosphonate) as an imprinting template, mono[6-deoxy-6-[(mercaptodecamethylene)thio]]-β-cyclodextrin was prepared by self-assembled method on one of the SAW oscillators. After templates’ removal, a sensitive and selective molecular imprinting (MIP) monolayer for GB was prepared. Electrochemical impedance spectroscopy and atomic force microscope (AFM) were used to characterize this film. Comparing the detection results to GB by MIP film and non-MIP film, the molecularly imprinting effect was also proved. The resulting SAW sensor could detect sarin as low as 0.10 mg/m3 at room temperature and the frequency shift was about 300 Hz. The response frequency increased linearly with increasing sarin concentration in the range of 0.7 mg/m3~3.0 mg/m3. When sarin was detected under different temperatures, the SAW sensor exhibited outstanding sensitivity and reliability.
doi:10.3390/s150817916
PMCID: PMC4570299  PMID: 26213930
surface acoustic wave (SAW); β-cyclodextrin; self-assembly; molecular imprinting (MIP); detection
8.  A Novel Route for Preparation of Hollow Carbon Nanospheres Without Introducing Template 
Nanoscale Research Letters  2009;4(11):1365-1370.
A newly developed route for the synthesis of hollow carbon nanospheres without introducing template under hydrothermal conditions was reported. Hollow carbon nanospheres with the diameter of about 100 nm were synthesized using alginate as reagent only. Many instruments were applied to characterize the morphologies and structures of carbon hollow nanospheres, such as XRD, TEM, and Raman spectroscopy. The possible formation and growth mechanism of carbon hollow spheres were discussed on the basis of the investigation of reaction influence factors, such as temperature, time, and content. The findings would be useful for the synthesis of more materials with hollow structure and for the potential use in many aspects. The loading of SnO2 on the surface of carbon hollow spheres was processed, and its PL property was also characterized.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s11671-009-9406-7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1007/s11671-009-9406-7
PMCID: PMC2894182  PMID: 20628463
Synthesis; Nanostructure; Carbon hollow nanospheres
9.  A Novel Route for Preparation of Hollow Carbon Nanospheres Without Introducing Template 
Nanoscale Research Letters  2009;4(11):1365-1370.
A newly developed route for the synthesis of hollow carbon nanospheres without introducing template under hydrothermal conditions was reported. Hollow carbon nanospheres with the diameter of about 100 nm were synthesized using alginate as reagent only. Many instruments were applied to characterize the morphologies and structures of carbon hollow nanospheres, such as XRD, TEM, and Raman spectroscopy. The possible formation and growth mechanism of carbon hollow spheres were discussed on the basis of the investigation of reaction influence factors, such as temperature, time, and content. The findings would be useful for the synthesis of more materials with hollow structure and for the potential use in many aspects. The loading of SnO2on the surface of carbon hollow spheres was processed, and its PL property was also characterized.
doi:10.1007/s11671-009-9406-7
PMCID: PMC2894182  PMID: 20628463
Synthesis; Nanostructure; Carbon hollow nanospheres
10.  Sulfur/graphitic hollow carbon sphere nano-composite as a cathode material for high-power lithium-sulfur battery 
Nanoscale Research Letters  2013;8(1):343.
The intrinsic low conductivity of sulfur which leads to a low performance at a high current rate is one of the most limiting factors for the commercialization of lithium-sulfur battery. Here, we present an easy and convenient method to synthesize a mono-dispersed hollow carbon sphere with a thin graphitic wall which can be utilized as a support with a good electrical conductivity for the preparation of sulfur/carbon nano-composite cathode. The hollow carbon sphere was prepared from the pyrolysis of the homogenous mixture of the mono-dispersed spherical silica and Fe-phthalocyanine powder in elevated temperature. The composite cathode was manufactured by infiltrating sulfur melt into the inner side of the graphitic wall. The electrochemical cycling shows a capacity of 425 mAh g−1 at 3 C current rate which is more than five times larger than that for the sulfur/carbon black nano-composite prepared by simple ball milling.
doi:10.1186/1556-276X-8-343
PMCID: PMC3735411  PMID: 23914902
Lithium-sulfur battery; Hollow carbon sphere; Graphitic carbon; Nano-composite; Cathode
11.  Dye–Sensitized Nanostructured Crystalline Mesoporous Tin-doped Indium Oxide Films with Tunable Thickness for Photoelectrochemical Applications 
A simple route towards nanostructured mesoporous Indium–Tin Oxide (templated nano–ITO) electrodes exhibiting both high conductivities and optimized bicontinuous pore–solid network is reported. The ITO films are first produced as an X–ray–amorphous, high surface area material, by adapting recently established template–directed sol–gel methods using Sn(IV) and In(III) salts. Carefully controlled temperature/atmosphere treatments convert the as–synthesized ITO films into nano-crystalline coatings with the cubic bixbyite structure. Specially, a multi-layered synthesis was successfully undertaken for tuning the film thickness. In order to evaluate the performances of templated nano–ITO as an electrode substrate for photoelectrochemical applications, photoelectrodes were prepared by covalent grafting of a redox–active dye, the complex [Ru(bpy)2(4,4′-(CH2PO3H2)2-bpy)]Cl2 1 (bpy=bipyridine). Surface coverage was shown to increase with the film thickness, from 0.7 × 10−9 mol.cm−2 (one layer, 45 nm) to 3.5 × 10−9 mol.cm−2 (ten layers, 470 nm), the latter value being ~ 100 times larger than that for commercially available planar ITO. In the presence of an electron mediator, photocurrents up to 50 μA.cm−2 have been measured under visible light irradiation, demonstrating the potential of this new templated nano-ITO preparation for the construction of efficient photoelectrochemical devices.
doi:10.1039/C3TA10728K
PMCID: PMC3880857  PMID: 24404381
ITO; Mesoporous; Sol-gel Process; Multi-layered; Ruthenium dye; Photocurrents
12.  Hydrothermal evolution, optical and electrochemical properties of hierarchical porous hematite nanoarchitectures 
Hollow or porous hematite (α-Fe2O3) nanoarchitectures have emerged as promising crystals in the advanced materials research. In this contribution, hierarchical mesoporous α-Fe2O3 nanoarchitectures with a pod-like shape were synthesized via a room-temperature coprecipitation of FeCl3 and NaOH solutions, followed by a mild hydrothermal treatment (120°C to 210°C, 12.0 h). A formation mechanism based on the hydrothermal evolution was proposed. β-FeOOH fibrils were assembled by the reaction-limited aggregation first, subsequent and in situ conversion led to compact pod-like α-Fe2O3 nanoarchitectures, and finally high-temperature, long-time hydrothermal treatment caused loose pod-like α-Fe2O3 nanoarchitectures via the Ostwald ripening. The as-synthesized α-Fe2O3 nanoarchitectures exhibit good absorbance within visible regions and also exhibit an improved performance for Li-ion storage with good rate performance, which can be attributed to the porous nature of Fe2O3 nanoarchitectures. This provides a facile, environmentally benign, and low-cost synthesis strategy for α-Fe2O3 crystal growth, indicating the as-prepared α-Fe2O3 nanoarchitectures as potential advanced functional materials for energy storage, gas sensors, photoelectrochemical water splitting, and water treatment.
doi:10.1186/1556-276X-8-2
PMCID: PMC3552811  PMID: 23279781
Hematite; Hierarchical nanoarchitectures; Hydrothermal; Mesoporous; Lithium-ion batteries
13.  Investigation of phase composition and nanoscale microstructure of high-energy ball-milled MgCu sample 
Nanoscale Research Letters  2012;7(1):390.
The ball milling technique has been successfully applied to the synthesis of various materials such as equilibrium intermetallic phases, amorphous compounds, nanocrystalline materials, or metastable crystalline phases. However, how the phase composition and nanoscale microstructure evolute during ball milling in various materials is still controversial due to the complex mechanism of ball milling, especially in the field of solid-state amorphization caused by ball milling. In the present work, the phase evolution during the high-energy ball milling process of the Mg and Cu (atomic ratio is 1:1) mixed powder was investigated. It was found that Mg firstly reacts with Cu, forming the Mg2Cu alloy in the primary stage of ball milling. As the milling time increases, the diffracted peaks of Mg2Cu and Cu gradually disappear, and only a broad halo peak can be observed in the X-ray diffraction pattern of the final 18-h milled sample. As for this halo peak, lots of previous studies suggested that it originated from the amorphous phase formed during the ball milling. Here, a different opinion that this halo peak results from the very small size of crystals is proposed: As the ball milling time increases, the sizes of Mg2Cu and Cu crystals become smaller and smaller, so the diffracted peaks of Mg2Cu and Cu become broader and broader and result in their overlap between 39° and 45°, at last forming the amorphous-like halo peak. In order to determine the origin of this halo peak, microstructure observation and annealing experiment on the milled sample were carried out. In the transmission electron microscopy dark-field image of the milled sample, lots of very small nanocrystals (below 20 nm) identified as Mg2Cu and Cu were found. Moreover, in the differential scanning calorimetry curve of the milled sample during the annealing process, no obvious exothermic peak corresponding to the crystallization of amorphous phase is observed. All the above results confirm that the broad halo diffracted peak in the milled MgCu sample is attributed to the overlap of the broadened peaks of the very small Mg2Cu and Cu nanocrystalline phase, not the MgCu amorphous phase. The whole milling process of MgCu can be described as follows: Mg+Cu→Mg2Cu+Cu→Mg2Cunanocrystal+Cunanocrystal.
doi:10.1186/1556-276X-7-390
PMCID: PMC3462153  PMID: 22793264
14.  Potentiometric CO2 Sensor Using Li+ Ion Conducting Li3PO4 Thin Film Electrolyte 
Sensors (Basel, Switzerland)  2005;5(11):465-472.
Li+ ion conducting Li3PO4 thin film electrolytes with thickness 300nm, 650nm and 1.2μm were deposited on Al2O3 substrate at room temperature by thermal evaporation method. Reference and sensing electrodes were printed on Au interfaces by conventional screen printing technique. The overall dimension of the sensor was 3 × 3 mm and of electrodes were 1 × 1.5 mm each. The fabricated solid state potentiometric CO2 sensors of type: CO2, O2, Au, Li2TiO3-TiO2| Li3PO4 |Li2CO3, Au, CO2, O2 have been investigated for CO2 sensing properties. The electromotive force (emf) and Δemf/dec values of the sensors are dependent on the thickness of the electrolyte film. 1.2μm thickness deposited sensor has shown good sensing behavior than the sensors with less thickness. The Δemf values of the sensor are linearly increased up to 460°C operating temperature and became stable above 460°C. Between 460-500°C temperatures region the sensor has reached an equilibrium state and the experimentally obtained Δemf values are about 80% of the theoretically calculated values. A Nernst's slope of -61mV/decade has been obtained between 250 to 5000 ppm of CO2 concentration at 500°C temperature. The sensor is suitable for ease of mass production in view of its miniaturization and cost effectiveness after some further improvement.
PMCID: PMC3934518
Thin film; Thick film; Potentiometric CO2 sensor; Li+ ion electrolyte
15.  Molecular packing and magnetic properties of lithium naphthalocyanine crystals: hollow channels enabling permeability and paramagnetic sensitivity to molecular oxygen 
Journal of materials chemistry  2009;19(24):4138-4147.
The synthesis, structural framework, magnetic and oxygen-sensing properties of a lithium naphthalocyanine (LiNc) radical probe are presented. LiNc was synthesized in the form of a microcrystalline powder using a chemical method and characterized by electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spectroscopy, magnetic susceptibility, powder X-ray diffraction analysis, and mass spectrometry. X-Ray powder diffraction studies revealed a structural framework that possesses long, hollow channels running parallel to the packing direction. The channels measured approximately 5.0 × 5.4 Å2 in the two-dimensional plane perpendicular to the length of the channel, enabling diffusion of oxygen molecules (2.9 × 3.9 Å2) through the channel. The powdered LiNc exhibited a single, sharp EPR line under anoxic conditions, with a peak-to-peak linewidth of 630 mG at room temperature. The linewidth was sensitive to surrounding molecular oxygen, showing a linear increase in pO2 with an oxygen sensitivity of 31.2 mG per mmHg. The LiNc microcrystals can be further prepared as nano-sized crystals without the loss of its high oxygen-sensing properties. The thermal variation of the magnetic properties of LiNc, such as the EPR linewidth, EPR intensity and magnetic susceptibility revealed the existence of two different temperature regimes of magnetic coupling and hence differing columnar packing, both being one-dimensional antiferromagnetic chains but with differing magnitudes of exchange coupling constants. At a temperature of ∼50 K, LiNc crystals undergo a reversible phase transition. The high degree of oxygen-sensitivity of micro- and nano-sized crystals of LiNc, combined with excellent stability, should enable precise and accurate measurements of oxygen concentration in biological systems using EPR spectroscopy.
doi:10.1039/b901886g
PMCID: PMC2756769  PMID: 19809598
16.  Dynamic Response of CoSb2O6 Trirutile-Type Oxides in a CO2 Atmosphere at Low-Temperatures 
Sensors (Basel, Switzerland)  2014;14(9):15802-15814.
Experimental work on the synthesis of the CoSb2O6 oxide and its CO2 sensing properties is presented here. The oxide was synthesized by a microwave-assisted colloidal method in presence of ethylenediamine after calcination at 600 °C. This CoSb2O6 oxide crystallized in a tetragonal structure with cell parameters a = 4.6495 and c = 9.2763 Å, and space group P42/mnm. To prove its physical, chemical and sensing properties, the oxide was subjected to a series of tests: Raman spectroscopy, Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) and impedance (Z) measurements. Microstructures, like columns, bars and hollow hemispheres, were observed. For the CO2 sensing test, a thick film of CoSb2O6 was used, measuring the impedance variations on the presence of air/CO2 flows (0.100 sccm/0.100 sccm) using AC (alternating current) signals in the frequency-range 0.1–100 kHz and low relative temperatures (250 and 300 °C). The CO2 sensing results were quite good.
doi:10.3390/s140915802
PMCID: PMC4208146  PMID: 25162232
sensing properties; CoSb2O6; trirutile; chemical synthesis
17.  Preparation of hollow porous Cu2O microspheres and photocatalytic activity under visible light irradiation 
Nanoscale Research Letters  2012;7(1):347.
Cu2O p-type semiconductor hollow porous microspheres have been prepared by using a simple soft-template method at room temperature. The morphology of as-synthesized samples is hollow spherical structures with the diameter ranging from 200 to 500 nm, and the surfaces of the spheres are rough, porous and with lots of channels and folds. The photocatalytic activity of degradation of methyl orange (MO) under visible light irradiation was investigated by UV-visible spectroscopy. The results show that the hollow porous Cu2O particles were uniform in diameters and have an excellent ability in visible light-induced degradation of MO. Meanwhile, the growth mechanism of the prepared Cu2O was also analyzed. We find that sodium dodecyl sulfate acted the role of soft templates in the synthesis process. The hollow porous structure was not only sensitive to the soft template but also to the amount of reagents.
doi:10.1186/1556-276X-7-347
PMCID: PMC3443013  PMID: 22738162
Cu2O; Hollow porous microspheres; Photocatalytic; Visible light
18.  Gas sensing properties of conducting polymer/Au-loaded ZnO nanoparticle composite materials at room temperature 
Nanoscale Research Letters  2014;9(1):467.
In this work, a new poly (3-hexylthiophene):1.00 mol% Au-loaded zinc oxide nanoparticles (P3HT:Au/ZnO NPs) hybrid sensor is developed and systematically studied for ammonia sensing applications. The 1.00 mol% Au/ZnO NPs were synthesized by a one-step flame spray pyrolysis (FSP) process and mixed with P3HT at different mixing ratios (1:1, 2:1, 3:1, 4:1, and 1:2) before drop casting on an Al2O3 substrate with interdigitated gold electrodes to form thick film sensors. Particle characterizations by X-ray diffraction (XRD), nitrogen adsorption analysis, and high-resolution transmission electron microscopy (HR-TEM) showed highly crystalline ZnO nanoparticles (5 to 15 nm) loaded with ultrafine Au nanoparticles (1 to 2 nm). Film characterizations by XRD, field-emission scanning electron microscopy (FE-SEM), energy-dispersive X-ray (EDX) spectroscopy, and atomic force microscopy (AFM) revealed the presence of P3HT/ZnO mixed phases and porous nanoparticle structures in the composite thick film. The gas sensing properties of P3HT:1.00 mol% Au/ZnO NPs composite sensors were studied for reducing and oxidizing gases (NH3, C2H5OH, CO, H2S, NO2, and H2O) at room temperature. It was found that the composite film with 4:1 of P3HT:1.00 mol% Au/ZnO NPs exhibited the best NH3 sensing performances with high response (approximately 32 to 1,000 ppm of NH3), fast response time (4.2 s), and high selectivity at room temperature. Plausible mechanisms explaining the enhanced NH3 response by composite films were discussed.
doi:10.1186/1556-276X-9-467
PMCID: PMC4159556  PMID: 25246871
P3HT; Au-loaded ZnO; Composite films; NH3 sensor; Flame spray pyrolysis
19.  Surfactant free most probable TiO2 nanostructures via hydrothermal and its dye sensitized solar cell properties 
Scientific Reports  2013;3:3004.
Tailoring the nano-morphology and nano-architecture of titanium dioxide (TiO2) is the most important task in the third generation solar cells (Dye sensitized solar cells/Quantum dot sensitized solar cells) (DSSCs/QDSSCs). In this article we present complete study of surfactant free synthesis of TiO2 nanostructures by a simple and promising hydrothermal route. The plethora of nanostructures like nanoparticles clusters, 1D tetragonal nanorods, 3D dendrites containing nanorods having <30 nm diameter and 3D hollow urchin like have been synthesized. These nanostructures possess effective large surface area and thus useful in DSSCs. In the present work, 7.16% power conversion efficiency has been demonstrated for 3D dendritic hollow urchin like morphology. Our synthetic strategy provides an effective solution for surfactant free synthesis of efficient TiO2 nanoarchitectures.
doi:10.1038/srep03004
PMCID: PMC3801147  PMID: 24141599
20.  A Study of a QCM Sensor Based on TiO2 Nanostructures for the Detection of NO2 and Explosives Vapours in Air 
Sensors (Basel, Switzerland)  2015;15(4):9563-9581.
The paper deals with investigations concerning the construction of sensors based on a quartz crystal microbalance (QCM) containing a TiO2 nanostructures sensor layer. A chemical method of synthesizing these nanostructures is presented. The prepared prototype of the QCM sensing system, as well as the results of tests for detecting low NO2 concentrations in an atmosphere of synthetic air have been described. The constructed NO2 sensors operate at room temperature, which is a great advantage, because resistance sensors based on wide gap semiconductors often require much higher operation temperatures, sometimes as high as 500 °C. The sensors constructed by the authors can be used, among other applications, in medical and chemical diagnostics, and also for the purpose of detecting explosive vapours. Reactions of the sensor to nitroglycerine vapours are presented as an example of its application. The influence of humidity on the operation of the sensor was studied.
doi:10.3390/s150409563
PMCID: PMC4431193  PMID: 25912352
gas sensors; Quartz Crystal Microbalance (QCM); nanoparticles; titanium dioxide (TiO2); NO2 detection; nitroglycerine detection
21.  Self-Assembled 3D Flower-Like Hierarchical β-Ni(OH)2 Hollow Architectures and their In Situ Thermal Conversion to NiO 
Nanoscale Research Letters  2009;4(6):550-557.
Three-dimensional (3D) flower-like hierarchical β-Ni(OH)2 hollow architectures were synthesized by a facile hydrothermal route. The as-obtained products were well characterized by XRD, SEM, TEM (HRTEM), SAED, and DSC-TGA. It was shown that the 3D flower-like hierarchical β-Ni(OH)2 hollow architectures with a diameter of several micrometers are assembled from nanosheets with a thickness of 10–20 nm and a width of 0.5–2.5 μm. A rational mechanism of formation was proposed on the basis of a range of contrasting experiments. 3D flower-like hierarchical NiO hollow architectures with porous structure were obtained after thermal decomposition at appropriate temperatures. UV–Vis spectra reveal that the band gap of the as-synthesized NiO samples was about 3.57 eV, exhibiting obviously red shift compared with the bulk counterpart.
doi:10.1007/s11671-009-9279-9
PMCID: PMC2894297  PMID: 20596326
Ni(OH)2; NiO; Hollow architecture; Hydrothermal synthesis
22.  Self-Assembled 3D Flower-Like Hierarchical β-Ni(OH)2Hollow Architectures and their In Situ Thermal Conversion to NiO 
Nanoscale Research Letters  2009;4(6):550-557.
Three-dimensional (3D) flower-like hierarchicalβ-Ni(OH)2hollow architectures were synthesized by a facile hydrothermal route. The as-obtained products were well characterized by XRD, SEM, TEM (HRTEM), SAED, and DSC-TGA. It was shown that the 3D flower-like hierarchicalβ-Ni(OH)2hollow architectures with a diameter of several micrometers are assembled from nanosheets with a thickness of 10–20 nm and a width of 0.5–2.5 μm. A rational mechanism of formation was proposed on the basis of a range of contrasting experiments. 3D flower-like hierarchical NiO hollow architectures with porous structure were obtained after thermal decomposition at appropriate temperatures. UV–Vis spectra reveal that the band gap of the as-synthesized NiO samples was about 3.57 eV, exhibiting obviously red shift compared with the bulk counterpart.
doi:10.1007/s11671-009-9279-9
PMCID: PMC2894297  PMID: 20596326
Ni(OH)2; NiO; Hollow architecture; Hydrothermal synthesis
23.  Preparation of hollow magnetite microspheres and their applications as drugs carriers 
Nanoscale Research Letters  2012;7(1):210.
Hollow magnetite microspheres have been synthesized by a simple process through a template-free hydrothermal approach. Hollow microspheres were surface modified by coating with a silica nanolayer. Pristine and modified hollow microparticles were characterized by field-emission electron microscopy, transmission electron microscopy, X-ray diffraction, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, FT-IR and Raman spectroscopy, and VSM magnetometry. The potential application of the modified hollow magnetite microspheres as a drug carrier was evaluated by using Rhodamine B and methotrexate as model drugs. The loading and release kinetics of both molecules showed a clear pH and temperature dependent profile.
Graphical abstract
Hollow magnetite microspheres have been synthesized. Load-release experiments with Rhodamine-B as a model drug and with Methotrexate (chemotherapy drug used in treating certain types of cancer) demonstrated the potential applications of these nanostructures in biomedical applications.
doi:10.1186/1556-276X-7-210
PMCID: PMC3388010  PMID: 22490731
Fe3O4; Drug carrier; Rhodamine-B; Methotrexate
24.  Dissolution Testing of Hardly Soluble Materials by Surface Sensitive Techniques: Clotrimazole from an Insoluble Matrix 
Pharmaceutical Research  2014;31(10):2708-2715.
ABSTRACT
Purpose
The low aqueous solubility of many drugs impedes detailed investigation as the detection limit of standard testing routines is limited. This is further complicated within application relevant thin films typical used in patches or stripes for buccal or topical routes.
Methods
In this work a model system is developed based on spin – casting technique allowing defined clotrimazole and clotrimazole – polystyrene composite films preparation at a solid surface. Various highly sensitive techniques including quarz crystal microbalance (QCM), X-ray reflevtivity (XRR) and X-ray photon spectroscopy (XPS) are used to investigate the drug release over time into an aqueous media.
Results
The results reveal a steady drug release for both samples over the course of the experiments but with the release from the composite being significantly slower. In addition the dissolution rate of the clotrimazole sample initially increases up to 30 min after which a decrease is noted. XRR shows that this is a result of surface roughening together with film thickness reduction. The results for the composite show that the release in the composite film is a result of drug diffusion within the matrix and collapsing PS film thickness whereby XPS shows that the amount of clotrimazole at the surface after 800 min immersion is still high.
Conclusion
It can be stated that the applied techniques allow following low mass drug release in detail which may also be applied to other systems like pellets or surface loaded nano-carriers providing information for processing and application relevant parameters.
doi:10.1007/s11095-014-1368-5
PMCID: PMC4197366  PMID: 24752480
clotrimazole; composite; contact angle; differential scanning calorimetry; dissolution; drug release; polystyrene; quartz crystal microbalance with dissipation; thin film; X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy; X-ray reflectivity
25.  Investigation of In Vitro Drug Release from Porous Hollow Silica Nanospheres Prepared of ZnS@SiO2 Core-Shell 
In this contribution, porous hollow silica nanoparticles using inorganic nanosized ZnS as a template were prepared. The hydrothermal method was used to synthesize pure ZnS nanospheres material. The ZnS@SiO2 core-shell nanocomposites were prepared using a simple sol-gel method successfully. The hollow silica nanostructures were achieved by selective removal of the ZnS core. The morphology, structure, and composition of the product were determined using powder X-ray diffraction (XRD), emission scanning electron microscopy (SEM), transmission electron microscopy (TEM), and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FT-IR). The results demonstrated clearly that the pure ZnS nanoparticles are in a spherical form with the average size of 40 nm and correspond with zinc blend structure. The porous hollow silica nanoparticles obtained were exploited as drug carriers to investigate in vitro release behavior of amoxicillin in simulated body fluid (SBF). UV-visible spectrometry was carried out to determine the amount of amoxicillin entrapped in the carrier. Amoxicillin release profile from porous hollow silica nanoparticles followed a three-stage pattern and indicated a delayed release effect.
doi:10.1155/2013/541030
PMCID: PMC3792506  PMID: 24170995

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