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 April 19, 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 April 19, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Small Reactors Could Be Future of Nuclear Energy

Small Reactors Could Be Future of Nuclear Energy

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) After the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the industry fell under intense scrutiny. Now, small underground nuclear power plants are being considered as the possible future of the nuclear energy. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Horseless Carriage Introduced at NY Auto Show

Horseless Carriage Introduced at NY Auto Show

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) An electric car that proponents hope will replace horse-drawn carriages in New York City has also been revealed at the auto show. (Apr. 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Honda's New ASIMO Robot, More Human-Like Than Ever

Honda's New ASIMO Robot, More Human-Like Than Ever

AFP (Apr. 17, 2014) It walks and runs, even up and down stairs. It can open a bottle and serve a drink, and politely tries to shake hands with a stranger. Meet the latest ASIMO, Honda's humanoid robot. Duration: 00:54 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
German Researchers Crack Samsung's Fingerprint Scanner

German Researchers Crack Samsung's Fingerprint Scanner

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) German researchers have used a fake fingerprint made from glue to bypass the fingerprint security system on Samsung's new Galaxy S5 smartphone. Video provided by Newsy
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