Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Nano-scale Electromechanical Sensors In Handheld Devices

Date:
November 12, 2008
Source:
Clemson University
Summary:
Physicists are researching nano-scale cantilevers that have the potential to read and alert us to toxic chemicals or gases in the air. Put them into a small handheld device and the potential is there for real-time chemical alerts in battle, in industry, in health care and even at home.

Clemson physics professor Apparao Rao and his team are researching nano-scale cantilevers that have the potential to read and alert us to toxic chemicals or gases in the air. Put them into a small handheld device and the potential is there for real-time chemical alerts in battle, in industry, in health care and even at home.
Credit: Image courtesy of Clemson University

Clemson physics professor Apparao Rao and his team are researching nano-scale cantilevers that have the potential to read and alert us to toxic chemicals or gases in the air. Put them into a small handheld device and the potential is there for real-time chemical alerts in battle, in industry, in health care and even at home.

“The ability to build extremely small devices to do this work has been something we’ve only seen so far in science-fiction movies,” Rao said.

The width of a human hair or smaller, the micro- and nano-scale cantilevers look like tiny diving boards under an electron microscope. The researchers have advanced the method of oscillating cantilevers that vibrate much like a guitar string and measure amplitude and frequency under different conditions, creating highly reliable sensors that can relay a message that there’s trouble in the air.

“The current way of sensing involves an optical method that uses a relatively bulky and expensive laser beam that doesn’t translate well to use in nano-scale cantilevers. Our method is fully electrical and uses a small AC voltage to vibrate the cantilever and simple electronics to detect any changes in the vibration caused by gaseous chemical or biological agents,” Rao said. “This method enables the development of handheld devices that would beep or flash as they read gas and chemical levels on site.”

The potential applications are varied, he said. In addition to simultaneously reading multiple kinds of toxins in the environment, these electromechanical sensors have been shown to measure changes in humidity and temperature.

Preliminary results indicate that this fully electrical sensing scheme is so sensitive that it can differentiate between hydrogen and deuterium gas, very similar isotopes of the same element. Since the whole process is electrical, the size limitations that plague competing detection methods are not a problem here. The cantilevers can be shrunk down to the nano-scale and the operating electronics can be contained on a single tiny chip. Rao’s research has shown that a single carbon nanotube can be used as a vibrating cantilever.

Rao credits Clemson Professor Emeritus of Physics Malcolm Skove, who discovered that measuring the resonant frequency of a cantilever at the second or higher harmonies would get rid of the so-called parasitic capacitance, an unwanted background that obscures the signal and has been a major stumbling block to the advancement of similar technology.

“When we operate at these higher harmonics of the resonant frequency, we get extremely clean signals. It makes a tremendous difference, and the National Institute for Standards and Technology is interested in promoting the Clemson method as one of the standard methods for measuring the stiffness of cantilevered beams,” said Rao.

The research was funded for $500,000 over four years from the National Science Foundation and the Department of Defense.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Clemson University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Clemson University. "Nano-scale Electromechanical Sensors In Handheld Devices." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 November 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081111130852.htm>.
Clemson University. (2008, November 12). Nano-scale Electromechanical Sensors In Handheld Devices. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081111130852.htm
Clemson University. "Nano-scale Electromechanical Sensors In Handheld Devices." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081111130852.htm (accessed August 27, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Australian Airlines Relax Phone Ban Too

Australian Airlines Relax Phone Ban Too

Reuters - Business Video Online (Aug. 26, 2014) Qantas and Virgin say passengers can use their smartphones and tablets throughout flights after a regulator relaxed a ban on electronic devices during take-off and landing. As Hayley Platt reports the move comes as the two domestic rivals are expected to post annual net losses later this week. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hurricane Marie Brings Big Waves to California Coast

Hurricane Marie Brings Big Waves to California Coast

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 26, 2014) Huge waves generated by Hurricane Marie hit the Southern California coast. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chinese Researchers Might Be Creating Supersonic Submarine

Chinese Researchers Might Be Creating Supersonic Submarine

Newsy (Aug. 26, 2014) Chinese researchers have expanded on Cold War-era tech and are closer to building a submarine that could reach the speed of sound. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Breakingviews: India Coal Strained by Supreme Court Ruling

Breakingviews: India Coal Strained by Supreme Court Ruling

Reuters - Business Video Online (Aug. 26, 2014) An acute coal shortage is likely to be aggravated as India's supreme court declared government coal allocations illegal, says Breakingviews' Peter Thal Larsen. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins