Fabrication of the microsensor includes four major steps: 1) synthesis of the porous metal or metal oxide nanorods using a sacrificial carbon nanotube template; 2) deposition of the electrodes onto the alumina substrate; 3) alignment of the nanotubes between electrodes using dielectrophoresis and 4) deposition of the top electrodes to bury the aligned nanostructures.

The methane microsensor described in the study has low power consumption, is easy to use and can be applied to a variety of applications, including leak detection of hydrocarbon fuels. The unit could also be used for personal health monitoring and environmental monitoring.

The low cost of the simple batch fabrication processes has the potential to deliver a highly affordable sensor that could be installed in a wide range of locations thanks to the compact nature of the device.

Full details can be found in the journal Nanotechnology.