Article abstract

Nature Nanotechnology 2, 114 - 120 (2007)
Published online: 28 January 2007 | doi:10.1038/nnano.2006.208

Subject Categories: Nanosensors and other devices | NEMS

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

Mo Li1, H. X. Tang1,2 & M. L. Roukes1

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 127 MHz cantilever vibrations is demonstrated with a thermomechanical-noise-limited displacement sensitivity of 39 fm Hz−1/2. 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).

  1. Kavli Nanoscience Institute and Departments of Physics, Applied Physics, and Bioengineering, California Institute of Technology, MS 114-36, Pasadena, California 91125, USA
  2. Present address: Departments of Electrical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering, Yale University, Becton Center 215, 15 Prospect St, New Haven, Connecticut 06520, USA

Correspondence to: M. L. Roukes1 e-mail: e-mail:


These links to content published by NPG are automatically generated.


Nanosensors Small strains, big gains

Nature Nanotechnology News and Views (01 Feb 2007)

Nanophotonics Gradient force shows its potential

Nature Nanotechnology News and Views (01 Jun 2009)

See all 4 matches for News And Views

Extra navigation

Subscribe to Nature Nanotechnology