Nanomechanical cantilevers are microfabricated silicon beams with a typical length of a few hundred micrometers and a width of 100 micrometers or less.
With their thickness of only one to ten micrometers, or 1/10th to 1/100th of a human hair, already a tiny force is able to bend the cantilever. Since deflections of less than 1 nm can be measured, cantilevers qualify as very small and extremely sensitive force and mass sensors
By coating the surface with a chemical layer that selectively adsorbs or binds a given target substance, a cantilever can be converted into a highly sensitive and selective chemical or biochemical sensor.
When the cantilever comes in contact with the target substance, it reacts with a mechanical response: the cantilever bends due to surface stress and changes its resonance frequency due to the additional mass load. The tiny dimensions of the cantilever account for its extremely high sensitivity.
Cantisens Research measures both of these signals with extremely high accuracy allowing identification and quantitative detection of the target substance.
Multiplying the number of cantilevers and combining them to arrays allows differential as well as simultaneous measurements.
Using one or more Cantilevers as reference and measuring the differential signal improves the sensitivity, eliminating the effects of unspecific bindings.
By individually coating each cantilever on an array multiple substances within a mixture can be measured simultaneously.