Metal-oxide chemical sensor technology has been praised as a cheap and efficient method of detecting both reducing and oxidizing gases depending on the metal-oxide’s carrier type. The research conducted in this thesis explored methods of enhancing the sensitivity of an n-type metal-oxide material (indium tin oxide, ITO) to a volatile organic compound (VOC) through changes in both device and testing characteristics. Two methods of testing prototype sensors were developed which consisted of short and long-term exposure to ethanol at different temperatures and concentrations. Maximum sensitivity at 2000 ppm was achieved in devices with thin, annealed metal-oxide layers with a high temperature of operation; this sensitivity measurement was achieved using a prolonged exposure test with 100-nm of annealed ITO at an operating temperature of 360°C and yielded a sensitivity of 32.5%. A fabrication process consisting of two lift-off processes for the metal-oxide and contact metal was developed to create the prototype devices. Preliminary characterization on the metal-oxide materials confirmed its thickness, crystallinity / crystal structure, and grain size. In addition to the electrical tests, a future work chemical sensor was thermally and electrically simulated using SolidWorks and Silvaco Atlas, respectively; a proposed fabrication process of the device is also presented, along with a basic outline of future work experiments to further study sensitivity enhancements through other metal-oxide materials, noble catalytic metals, device architecture, and signal processing of proposed electrical testing.
Microelectronic Engineering (MS)
Department, Program, or Center
Microelectronic Engineering (KGCOE)
Hughes, John F., "Sensitivity Enhancement of Metal-Oxide Chemical Sensors for Detection of Volatile Organic Compounds" (2017). Thesis. Rochester Institute of Technology. Accessed from
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