Strategy toward Miniaturized, Self-out-Readable Resonant Cantilever and Integrated Electrostatic Microchannel Separator for Highly Sensitive Airborne Nanoparticle Detection
In this paper, a self-out-readable, miniaturized cantilever resonator for highly sensitive airborne nanoparticle (NP) detection is presented. The cantilever, which is operated in the fundamental in-plane resonance mode, is used as a microbalance with femtogram resolution. To maximize sensitivity and read-out signal amplitude of the piezo-resistive Wheatstone half bridge, the geometric parameters of the sensor design are optimized by finite element modelling (FEM). The electrical read-out of the cantilever movement is realized by piezo-resistive struts at the sides of the cantilever resonator that enable real-time tracking using a phase-locked loop (PLL) circuit. Cantilevers with minimum resonator mass of 1.72 ng and resonance frequency of ~440 kHz were fabricated, providing a theoretical sensitivity of 7.8 fg/Hz. In addition, for electrostatic NP collection, the cantilever has a negative-biased electrode located at its free end. Moreover, the counter-electrode surrounding the cantilever and a µ-channel, guiding the particle-laden air flow towards the cantilever, are integrated with the sensor chip. µ-channels and varying sampling voltages will also be used to accomplish particle separation for size-selective NP detection. To sum up, the presented airborne NP sensor is expected to demonstrate significant improvements in the field of handheld, micro-/nanoelectromechanical systems (M/NEMS)-based NP monitoring devices.