Optical hydrogen sensing beyond palladium: Hafnium and tantalum as effective sensing materials

L. J. Bannenberg, C. Boelsma, H. Schreuders, S. Francke, N. J. Steinke, A. A. van Well, B. Dam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


The detection of hydrogen in a fast, efficient and accurate way is vital for its safe handling in industrial processes and in its use as an energy carrier. Thin film metal hydrides are able to probe the hydrogen pressure, often relying on a change of the optical properties of a sensing layer comprised of palladium and alloys thereof. Apart from hysteresis, these palladium-based thin films suffer from a limited operating range. Here, we study the optical and structural properties of palladium capped hafnium and tantalum thin films. Both tantalum and hafnium thin films offer a stable and hysteresis-free optical response to hydrogen over a much larger pressure range than palladium-based films. Remarkably, the hydrogen content in both cases proves to be linear with the optical signal. In a wider perspective, these results illustrate that palladium-capped transition metals provide ample opportunities to design optical hydrogen sensors with desired properties.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)538-548
JournalSensors and Actuators, B: Chemical
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Metal hydrides
  • Neutron reflectometry
  • Optical hydrogen sensing
  • Thin films

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