39th Annual Meeting – Research and Technical Studies Morning Session, June 2, “Silver Nanoparticle Films as Sensors to Measure the Emission of Sulfur Gases from Wool Fabrics Degrading Under Ambient Conditions” by Rui Chen

Dr. Rui Chen has been developing optical sensors using silver nanoparticles for the detection and quantization of sulfurous gases. These sensors are meant to serve as an improvement over the metal coupons used in the Oddy test, as silver nanoparticles react faster and with higher sensitivity than bulk silver. Additionally, their reaction with hydrogen sulfide causes the nanoparticles to lose their color, so the kinetics of the reaction can be monitored spectrophotometrically with the decrease in the absorbance spectrum.

To make the sensors, spherical yellow nanoparticles are assembled as a monolayer on a glass surface with a polyethylenimine linker. When the monolayer films are exposed to hydrogen sulfide gas, the observed decrease in absorbance is faster when the concentration of hydrogen sulfide is higher. At concentrations of 10 ppm hydrogen sulfide, for example, the reaction is complete within about an hour, while completion occurs within 4 to 6 minutes at concentrations of 100 ppm.

Furthermore, Dr. Chen has found a linear relationship between the first-order rate constant for the reaction and the concentration of the gas. Thus, an unknown concentration of hydrogen sulfide gas can be calculated based on the reaction rate observed between the gas and the nanoparticle-based sensor.

The sensors have been applied to wool samples aged under UVB light. These samples exhibited the highest emissions within the first 400 hours of aging, with concentrations of hydrogen sulfide reaching nearly 600 ppb per gram of wool. The sensors have also been applied to photograph cases and a box containing naturally aged silk fibers; four of the five objects tested exhibited some emission of hydrogen sulfide to give concentrations that ranged from 33 ppb to about 150 ppb. Future work on this project will involve the development of a user-friendly protocol for the application of the sensors.