Hafnium - an optical hydrogen sensor spanning six orders in pressure

C. Boelsma, L. J. Bannenberg, M. J. Van Setten, N.J. Steinke, A.A. van Well, B. Dam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)
42 Downloads (Pure)


Hydrogen detection is essential for its implementation as an energy vector. So far, palladium is considered to be the most effective hydrogen sensing material. Here we show that palladium-capped hafnium thin films show a highly reproducible change in optical transmission in response to a hydrogen exposure ranging over six orders of magnitude in pressure. The optical signal is hysteresis-free within this range, which includes a transition between two structural phases. A temperature change results in a uniform shift of the optical signal. This, to our knowledge unique, feature facilitates the sensor calibration and suggests a constant hydrogenation enthalpy. In addition, it suggests an anomalously steep increase of the entropy with the hydrogen/metal ratio that cannot be explained on the basis of a classical solid solution model. The optical behaviour as a function of its hydrogen content makes hafnium well-suited for use as a hydrogen detection material.

Original languageEnglish
Article number15718
Number of pages8
JournalNature Communications
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Metals and alloys
  • Sensors and biosensors
  • Thermodynamics

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