Researchers have learned how to improve the performance of sensors that use tiny vibrating microcantilevers to detect chemical and biological agents for applications from national security to food processing.
The microcantilevers - slivers of silicon shaped like small diving boards - vibrate at their natural, or “resonant,” frequency. Analyzing the frequency change when a particle lands on the microcantilever reveals the particle’s presence and potentially its mass and composition.
The sensors are now used to research fundamental scientific questions. However, recent advances may allow for reliable sensing with portable devices, opening up a range of potential applications, said Jeffrey Rhoads, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Purdue University.