Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

M. Eng.


Chemical Engineering

Committee Chair

Fu, Xiao-An

Author's Keywords

Acetone; Thiol; Gas analysis; Sensor; Gold nanoparticles


Olfactometry; Chemical detectors; Nanoparticles


Analysis of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in air and exhaled breath by sensor array is a very useful testing technique. It can provide non-invasive, fast, inexpensive testing for many diseases. Breath analysis has been very successful in identifying cancer and other diseases by using a chemiresistor sensor or array with gold nanoparticles to detect biomarkers. Acetone is a biomarker for diabetes and having a portable testing device could help to monitor diabetic and therapeutic progress. An advantage to this testing method is it is conducted at room temperature instead of 200 degrees Celsius. The objective of this research is to determine the effect of thiol derivatized gold nanoparticles based on sensor(s) detection of VOCs. The VOCs to be tested are acetone, ethanol, and a mixture of acetone and ethanol. Each chip is tested under all three VOCs and three concentration levels (0.1, 1, and 5.0 ppm). VOC samples are used to test the sensors’ ability to detect and differentiate VOCs. Sensors (also referred to as a chip) are prepared using several types of thiol derivatized gold nanoparticles. The factors are: thiol compound and molar volume loading of the thiol in synthesis. The average resistance results are used to determine the VOC selectivity of the sensors tested. The results show a trend of increasing resistance as VOC concentration is increased relative to dry air; which is used as baseline for VOCs. Several sensors show a high selectivity to one or more VOCs. Overall the 57 µmoles of 4-methoxy-toluenethiol sensor shows the strongest selectivity for VOCs tested.