Original Date: 11/03/1996
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Information : Microcantilever Devices
Microcantilevers represent a new category for sensors and biosensors. Constructed of silicon, the devices are generally shaped like a diving board with an approximate length of 100 micrometers. Advantages include miniature size, high-degree of sensitivity, simplicity, low power consumption, low manufacturing cost, inherent compatibility with array designs, operable in air or liquid, and remote location operations with wireless reporting capabilities.
The extremely low mass of the device allows it to sense perturbing forces because of the adsorbed masses at the picogram level; the viscosity of a gas or liquid over several orders of magnitude; and the acoustic and seismic vibrations. Special coatings on the silicon will adapt the cantilever to sense relative humidity, temperature, mercury, lead, ultraviolet radiation, and infrared (IR) radiation. By using current micromachining technology, multiple arrays could be used to make multielement or multitarget sensor arrays involving hundreds of cantilevers without significantly increasing the size, complexity, or overall package costs.
Microcantilevers could revolutionize sensor technology because of the low cost, high sensitivity, and versatility. Potential applications include detecting and identifying pathogenic bacteria and toxins in only minutes (instead of days); detecting biological warfare agents under battlefield conditions; and detecting chemicals in the environment for cleanup monitoring. Oak Ridge designed two microcantilever prototypes (one for mercury detection and one for IR imaging) which received I-R 100 Awards in 1996.
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