A new route toward ultrasensitive, flexible chemical sensors: metal nanotubes by wet-chemical synthesis along sacrificial nanowire templates.
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We developed a novel low-temperature, wet-chemical process for the facile synthesis of metal nanotube arrays through the reduction of metal precursors along sacrificial metal oxide nanowire templates and demonstrated its applications to the ultrasensitive, low-power, mechanically robust, and flexible chemical sensors. The in situ dissolution of ZnO nanowire templates, which were hydrothermally grown on electrode surfaces, during the reaction allows the direct formation of tubular Pd nanostructures on the sensor devices without the need of complex processes for device integration or template removal. Moreover, this simple synthesis was carried out at low-temperature with mild chemical conditions; therefore we could make Pd nanotube devices not only on silicon substrates but also on flexible polymer substrates. The H(2) sensing of such Pd nanotube devices was investigated under various mechanical loading and showed excellent reliability and robustness. The sensitivity of our devices was found to be at least 2 orders of magnitude higher than literature values for H(2) sensors, which can be attributed to the high surface area and the well-formed interconnect of Pd tubular nanostructures in our devices.