ACS Appl Mater Interfaces 13 (18) 21724-21732 [2021-05-12; online 2021-04-28]
Hydrogen (H2) sensors that can be produced en masse with cost-effective manufacturing tools are critical for enabling safety in the emerging hydrogen economy. The use of melt-processed nanocomposites in this context would allow the combination of the advantages of plasmonic hydrogen detection with polymer technology; an approach which is held back by the slow diffusion of H2 through the polymer matrix. Here, we show that the use of an amorphous fluorinated polymer, compounded with colloidal Pd nanoparticles prepared by highly scalable continuous flow synthesis, results in nanocomposites that display a high H2 diffusion coefficient in the order of 10-5 cm2 s-1. As a result, plasmonic optical hydrogen detection with melt-pressed fluorinated polymer nanocomposites is no longer limited by the diffusion of the H2 analyte to the Pd nanoparticle transducer elements, despite a thickness of up to 100 μm, thereby enabling response times as short as 2.5 s at 100 mbar (≡10 vol. %) H2. Evidently, plasmonic sensors with a fast response time can be fabricated with thick, melt-processed nanocomposites, which paves the way for a new generation of robust H2 sensors.