Methylmercaptan (MM) is a marker of periodontal disease; however, the required sensitivity for MM is parts per billion, which has been challenging to realize with a simple sensor. Here, we report the capability to detect MM at concentrations as low as 20 ppb using layered manganese oxide nanosheets with a quartz crystal microbalance sensor. The sensing capabilities of the manganese oxide nanosheets are promoted by adsorbed water present on and between the nanosheets. The strong adsorption of MM to the sensor, which is necessary for the high sensitivity, leads to significant hysteresis in the response on cycling due to irreversible adsorption. However, the sensor can be readily reset by heating to 80 °C, which leads to highly reproducible response to MM vapor at low concentrations. A key aspect of this sensor design is the high selectivity toward MM in comparison to other compounds such as ethanol, ammonia, acetaldehyde, acetic acid, toluene, and pyridine. This layered nanosheets design for high-sensitivity sensors, demonstrated here for dilute MM, holds significant promise for addressing needs to identify sulfur compounds associated for environmental protection and medical diagnostics.
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