Journal of Undergraduate Research


porous cantilevers, chemical sensors, mass parallelization


Physical and Mathematical Sciences


Physics and Astronomy


Resonant cantilevers, or small vibrating beams, are used to detect small concentrations of chemicals. As molecules or atoms of the substance to be sensed adhere to the vibrating beam, the resonant frequency changes as a result of the change in mass. These sensors are built on the microscale to allow for mass parallelization. An array of cantilevers could each be coated with a different adhesion layer, making each beam sensitive to a unique substance. These sensors have previously been made of solid materials, but because the sensitivity is proportional to the surface area of the resonator, a porous cantilever could provide sensitivity improvements of tens of thousands of times. In addition, these porous cantilevers are capable of higher quality factors, leading to an additional increase in sensitivity as well as flexibility of use in a larger range of invironments. The reason that porous sensors are not generally made is that microfabrication techniques are not generally compatible with porous materials. We have developed a microfabrication method that allows for tunable porosity and used this method in creating and testing porous cantilever chemical sensors.

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