One young researcher in the spotlight: E. Della Gaspera

His research interests are the synthesis of nanocomposite thin films based on noble metal and transition metal oxide nanocrystals for optical gas sensing applications. In the field of gas sensors, much care has to be put in the structure and morphology of the active materials, in the different components properties and organization inside the final nanocomposite. Thus parameters like size, shape, monodispersity of the nanoparticles, control on different interfaces, specific surface area and proper open porosity, are of paramount importance. He used several approaches based on wet chemistry techniques (sol-gel, colloidal) for the synthesis of metals (Au, Ag, Pt, Au@Pt) and oxides (NiO, TiO2, ZnO) nanocrystals with desired chemical and physical properties to be deposited as thin films and used for optical sensing of reducing gases (H2, CO, H2S). For example, thin films composed of Ti and Ni mixed oxides synthesized with the sol-gel technique and containing Au NPs were found to be excellent materials for hydrogen sulfide detection: Au NPs act as optical probes for H2S sensing, with high selectivity towards interfering gases like CO and H2, while the oxide matrix is responsible for the catalytic decomposition of H2S to SOx. Recently, he synthesized ZnO and TiO2 based nanocomposites starting from colloidal solutions, obtaining nanocrystalline films without the need of a thermal treatment, opening the possibility of depositing these active layers over a variety of delicate substrates (polymers, unclad optical fibers, SPR substrates) for low-temperature sensing.

Selected publications

  • E. Della Gaspera, M. Guglielmi, S. Agnoli, G. Granozzi, M. L. Post, V. Bello, G. Mattei, A. Martucci, “Au nanoparticles in nanocrystalline TiO2-NiO films for SPR-based, selective H2S gas sensing”, Chem. Mater., 2010, 22, 3407-3417.
  • A.J. Morfa, G. Beane, B. Mashford, B. Singh, E. Della Gaspera, A. Martucci, P. Mulvaney, “Fabrication of ZnO thin films from nanocrystal inks”, J. Phys. Chem. C, 2010, 114, 19815-19821.
  • E. Della Gaspera, A. Antonello, M. Guglielmi, M.L. Post, V. Bello, G. Mattei, F. Romanato, A. Martucci, “Colloidal approach to Au-loaded TiO2 thin films with optimized optical sensing properties”, J. Mater. Chem., in press.