Synthesis of orthorhombic (α) MoO3 nano-flakes by dry oxidation of RF sputtered Mo thin film is presented. The influence of Mo thickness variation, oxidation temperature and time on the crystallographic structure, surface morphology and roughness of MoO3 thin films was studied using SEM, AFM, XRD and Raman spectroscopy. A structural study shows that MoO3 is polycrystalline in nature with an α phase. It was noticed that oxidation temperature plays an important role in the formation of nano-flakes. The synthesis technique proposed is simple and suitable for large scale productions. The synthesis parameters were optimized for the fabrication of sensors. Chrome gold-based IDE (interdigitated electrodes) structures were patterned for the electrical detection of organic vapors. Sensors were exposed to wide range 5-100 ppm of organic vapors like ethanol, acetone, IPA (isopropanol alcohol) and water vapors. α-MoO3 nano-flakes have demonstrated selective sensing to acetone in the range of 10-100 ppm at 150 °C. The morphology of such nanostructures has potential in applications such as sensor devices due to their high surface area and thermal stability. © 2016 IOP Publishing Ltd.