Ultra-sensitive NEMS-based cantilevers for sensing, scanned probe and very high-frequency applications

Mo Li, H. X. Tang, M. L. Roukes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

920 Scopus citations


Scanning probe microscopies (SPM) and cantilever-based sensors generally use low-frequency mechanical devices of microscale dimensions or larger. Almost universally, off-chip methods are used to sense displacement in these devices, but this approach is not suitable for nanoscale devices. Nanoscale mechanical sensors offer a greatly enhanced performance that is unattainable with microscale devices. Here we describe the fabrication and operation of self-sensing nanocantilevers with fundamental mechanical resonances up to very high frequencies (VHF). These devices use integrated electronic displacement transducers based on piezoresistive thin metal films, permitting straightforward and optimal nanodevice readout. This non-optical transduction enables applications requiring previously inaccessible sensitivity and bandwidth, such as fast SPM and VHF force sensing. Detection of 127MHz cantilever vibrations is demonstrated with a thermomechanical-noise-limited displacement sensitivity of 39fmHz 12 . Our smallest devices, with dimensions approaching the mean free path at atmospheric pressure, maintain high resonance quality factors in ambient conditions. This enables chemisorption measurements in air at room temperature, with unprecedented mass resolution less than 1 attogram (10 18 g).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)114-120
Number of pages7
JournalNature Nanotechnology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2007

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We acknowledge support for this work from DARPA/MTO-MGA through grant NBCH1050001. Correspondence and requests for materials should be addressed to M.L.R.


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