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U.S. Patent Application No. 61/625,511 is co-owned by the U.S. government, as represented by the Secretary of Commerce, George Washington University and the University of Maryland. Alcohol sensors using gallium nitride (GaN) nanowires (NWs) functionalized with zinc oxide (ZnO) nanoparticles have been demonstrated. These sensors operate at room temperature, are fully recoverable and demonstrate a response and recovery time of the order of 100 s. The sensing is assisted by UV light within the 215 nm-400 nm band and with the intensity of 375 nW/cm2 measured at 365 nm. The ability to functionalize an inactive nanowire surface, with analyte specific active metal oxide nanoparticles makes this sensor technique suitable for fabricating multi-analyte sensor arrays.