Nanostructured Microcantilevers for the Sensing of Volatile Compounds


Nanostructured Microcantilevers for the Sensing of Volatile Compounds



Ryan J Mcneilly



The goal of this study is to create a biomolecular sensing device with high sensitivity and selectivity. The micro-machined cantilever has been selected as the sensing platform, and will be improved using a bio-inspired approach. Inspired by the small hairs on fly antennae, the sensitivity of the sensor is increased through the use of a nanostructured surface. Nanostructure was deposited on the surface of the microcantilever using the Glancing Angle Deposition process and the nanostructure was analyzed using scanning electron microscopy, thermogravimetric analysis, and a Scanning Kelvin Probe. Incorporation of odorant binding proteins will also be used to increase the selectivity of the device, inspired by the sensing compounds of a dog’s nose. The sensing capabilities of the microcantilever will be tested on three molecules: trimethylamine, acetic acid, and ammonia. Peptides for the detection of these compounds have been modeled using PEP-FOLD and binding interactions have been modeled using PyRx. The chemistry was tested using fluorescence microscopy and Raman spectroscopy, demonstrating the successful attachment of the peptides. The microcantilever can be constructed in an array format, leading to potential applications in many areas, including environmental monitoring, food quality monitoring, hazardous gas detection, and medical diagnostics.

Publication Date


Project Designation

Graduate Research - Graduate

Primary Advisor

Karolyn M. Hansen

Primary Advisor's Department



Stander Symposium project

Nanostructured Microcantilevers for the Sensing of Volatile Compounds