Electrospun nanoparticle-nanofiber composites for advanced gas sensing

Study level


Master of Philosophy


Vacation research experience scheme

Topic status

In progress.


Professor Nunzio Motta
Division / Faculty
Science and Engineering Faculty
Associate Professor Prashant Sonar
Associate Professor
Division / Faculty
Science and Engineering Faculty

External supervisors

  • Dr Mahnaz Shafiei, Swinburne University of Technology


Portable chemical sensors are of critical importance for detection of air pollutants and biomarkers in human breath such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), CO, NO2 and CH4. Low power requirement is essential for long term operations of these mobile sensors providing real-time data about the ambient air quality and health monitoring.

Nanotechnology has had significant impacts on sensor technology enabling the development of portable and inexpensive nano-sensors that exhibit operational advantages such as low operation power as well as high integration flexibility with respect to their conventional counterparts.

A promising approach for the development of miniaturized low-power gas sensors is to take advantage of the unequalled properties of nanoparticles. Electrospinning is a technique that allows for simple incorporation of nanoparticles into nanostructures for various applications.

In this research, electrospinning process will be used to develop a gas sensor based on metal-oxide nanoparticles (such as MoO3, MoS2, WO3, WS2) embedded in polymer nanofibres. Semiconducting metal- oxides are one of the most promising materials for gas sensing applications and electrospun Metal-oxide nanoparticles will show high performance due to their high surface areas.

Research activities


  • Development of gravimetric and conductometric nanosensors based on electrospun metal-oxide nanoparticles incorporated into polymer nanofibres.
  • Comprehensive study of micro-nano characteristics of the developed nanostructured metal oxides to understand their influence on the sensor performance.
  • Investigation of the gas sensing performances (static and dynamic) of the developed gravimetric and conductometric devices.
  • Understanding and explanation of the gas molecules-sensing layer interaction mechanism


  • Synthesis of nanofibers with embedded metal-oxide nanoparticles as a sensing layer onto suitable gravimetric and conductometric transducers such as quartz crystal microbalance (QCM) and interdigitated electrodes (IDTs), respectively.
  • Micro-Nano characterization of the synthesized materials using techniques such as SEM, TEM, XPS, and XRD in order to fundamentally understand their functionalities with respect to the sensors performance.
  • Deployment of gravimetric and conductometric techniques to measure the gas response based on mass and conductivity change, respectively induced by the interaction between the nanostructured films and the analytic gases.

The specific activities will be tailored to the level of the student (V-RES, Honours, Master, PhD)  and to the available time. The student will work in an exciting, well-established, highly collaborative research group environment, using the most advanced instrumentation available at CARF, providing the opportunity for an effective and rich learning experience.

The team includes Prof. Nunzio Motta, expert in 2D materials for energy storage and in surface science, Dr Jennifer MacLeod, expert in surface science, molecular self assembly of 2D materials and graphene and an excellent group of PhD students and Post docs. The student will also benefit of an outstanding collaboration network including QUT researchers and international scientists.

For more information, please visit the Graphene-based thin film supercapacitors research website.


The expected outcomes include the development of novel gas sensors with high accuracy, fast response, low cost, low temperature operation, longer lifetime for large scale fabrication.

Skills and experience

  • Motivation and interest in scientific problems are required.
  • Strong foundations in Physics, Chemistry or Engineering is mandatory.
  • Specific skills will depend on the level of the project (VRES, Honours, Master, PhD).


You may be able to apply for a research scholarship in our annual scholarship round.

Annual scholarship round



Contact the supervisor for more information.