cantilever array sensors
Published on: Mar 3, 2016
Transcripts - cantilever array sensors
Cantilever array sensors
• Cantilevers are typically rectangular-shaped bars of Si less than 1 µm
thick. Adsorption/recognition of molecules on the surface of such
micromechanical cantilevers functionalized with receptor molecules results
in bending of the cantilever because of the surface stress.
• The bending is detected by deflection of a laser beam. Cantilever sensors
can be operated in various environments, such as vacuum, air, or liquids.
• The major advantages of such miniaturized sensors are their small size, fast
response times, high sensitivity, and direct transduction without the need
for any labels.
• Microfabricated cantilevers are mainly used as force sensors to image the
topography of a surface by means of techniques such as scanning force
microscopy (SFM) or atomic force microscopy (AFM).
• A cantilever with a sharp tip is scanned across a conductive or
nonconductive surface using an x-y-z actuator system (e.g. a piezoelectric
• The sample’s surface is imaged in a rectangular or square pattern of
parallel scan lines. The tip can be either in direct contact with the surface
(contact mode) or oscillated to interact with the surface only for a short
time during the oscillation cycle (dynamic, noncontactmode).
• The bending of the cantilever is usually measured via optical detection of
the position of a laser beam deflected at the apex of a cantilever, or via
piezoresistive strain gauges.
• The interaction of the cantilever tip with the surface is common to all SFM
methods. This interaction may be used tocontrol the feedback loop that
maintains a constant force orforce gradient between cantilever tip and
• By recording the correction signal applied to the z-actuation drive to keep
the interaction between tip and sample surface constant, a topography
image of the sample surface is obtained. AFM has developed into the most
powerful and versatile surface-characterization tool of today to investigate
surfaces at the molecular and atomic level.
Principles of operation
• For sensing purposes neither a sharp tip nor a sample surface is required.
We simply use an array of eight cantilever beams,each coated with a
sensitive layer for molecular recognition.
• Such devices represent ultrasensitive nanomechanical sensors for the
detection of chemical and biochemical reactions in both gas-phase and
• The sensitive layer can be either highly specific for molecular recognition
or only partially specific to produce response patterns for various analytes,
provided that each of the cantilevers is coated with a different partially
specific sensor layer
• In a gaseous environment, this configuration may be used as an artificial
nose tocharacterize volatile vapors and odors.
• In liquid, the cantilever sensors allow rapid, quantitative,and qualitative
detection of nonlabeled biomolecules, e.g. for sequence-specific DNA
hybridization with single-base mismatch sensitivity or for molecular
Modes of Operation
• Cantilever sensors can beoperated
in three modes
• In static mode the mechanical response of a sensitive layer applied onto
one cantilever surface (e.g. the upper one) to the adsorption or recognition
of molecules from the environment produces a signal.
• The surface stress occurring during the adsorption process results in a
static bending of the cantilever. Surface stresses of several 10-3 N/m result
in deflections of about10 nm for the cantilever sensors used here.
• The cantilever is oscillated externally at its resonance frequency using a
• The cantilever may be coated on its upper and lower surfaces with a
molecular layer sensitized to recognize molecules from the environment.
On adsorption of mass on the cantilever, the resonance frequency is shifted
to a lowervalue.
• From the shift in frequency, the adsorbed mass on the cantilever can be
calculated provided that the mechanical properties of the cantilever do not
change significantly because of the adsorbed mass.
• In heat (bimetallic) mode the difference in the linear expansion coefficients
of the cantilever material.
• E.g. single-crystalline Si typically with a 100 nm thick metalliclayer
applied to one of the surfaces, causes bending of the cantilever sensor if the
temperature is changed. Temperature changes of 10-5 K produce cantilever
deflections of several nanometers, which can be measured easily.
• Si cantilever sensor arrays are microfabricated using a dryetching
silicon-on-insulator (SOI) fabrication technique developed in the
Micro-/Nanomechanics Department at IBM’s Zurich Research Laboratory.
• One chip comprises eight cantilevers, each 500 µm long, 100 µm wide, and
0.5 µm thick, arranged at a pitch of 250 µm. The resonancefrequencies of
the cantilevers vary by only 0.5%,demonstrating the high reproducibility
and precision of thecantilever fabrication.
• A scanning electron micrograph of a cantilever sensor array chip is shown
• The upper surface of these
cantilevers is generally coated
with 2 nm of Ti and 20 nm of Au
to provide a reflective surface and
an interface for attaching
functional groups of probe
Microcantilever Sensors to Measure Physical Properties
• Cantilever-sensor array techniques have turned out tobe a very powerful
and highly sensitive tool to studyphysisorption and chemisorption
processes, as well as to determine material-specific properties such as heat
transfer during phase transitions.
• Experiments in liquids have provided new insights into such complex
biochemical reactions as the hybridization of DNA or molecular
recognition in antibody–antigen systems or proteomics