The relation of surface science studies of single crystal metal oxides to gas sensing applications is reviewed. Most metal oxide gas sensors are used to detect oxidizing or reducing gases and therefore this article focuses on surface reduction processes and the interaction of oxygen with these surfaces. The systems that are discussed are: (i) the oxygen vacancy formation on the surface of the ion conductor CeO2(111); (ii) interaction of oxygen with TiO2 (both adsorption processes and the incorporation of oxygen into the TiO2(110) lattice are discussed); (iii) the varying surface composition of SnO2(101) and its consequence for the adsorption of water; and (iv) Cu modified ZnO(0001)-Zn surfaces and its interaction with oxygen. These examples are chosen to give a comprehensive overview of surface science studies of different kinds of gas sensing materials and to illustrate the potential that surface science studies have to give fundamental insight into gas sensing phenomena.
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Reprints available from Ulrike Diebold (diebold).