Silica supraparticles for hydrogen detection

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The porous Supraparticle that consists of Silica, gold palladium nanoparticles and the indicator resazurin is able to absorb water from humid air. This results in a 3-component system in which the dye agent can move freely. The particles show an (ir)reversivle color changing reaction in the presence of hydrogen which allows for the detection of hydrogen in real time or after an exposure. (Grafik: AK Mandel / FAU)

H2 leakage detection is a crucial concern, which is necessary to ensure a safety environment in a green and sustainable hydrogen economy. Dr. Carlos Cuadrado Collados and Prof. Matthias Thommes in collaboration with Prof. Mandel and his colleagues (Prof. Libuda, Prof. Zahn, Prof. Görling) from the Department of Chemistry have investigated the use of nanoparticles as hydrogen sensors which can successfully detect even low concentrations of the gas, e.g. if there is a leak in a tank. The nanoparticles consist of three functional elements (Au-Pd nanoparticles, SiO2 nanoparticles and a dye agent) which are assembled via spray drying, conforming a supraparticle. In the presence of H2, the color of the supraparticle changes firstly from purple to pink. If the amount of gas further increases, the material tunes into a colorless state. Hence, this finding enables to immediately detect and find any hydrogen leak in real time and in multiple scenarios due to the small size of the supraparticles, for example in pipelines.

The results of this collaboration were recently published in the high impact journal Advanced Functional Materials (


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