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MEMS Cantilevers

MEMS Cantilevers
MEMS Cantilevers Knowledge Probe MEMS Cantilevers Knowledge Probe
MEMS Cantilever Applications PK MEMS Cantilever Applications PK
How Does a Cantilever Work? How Does a Cantilever Work?
Chemical Sensor Arrays Chemical Sensor Arrays
Dynamic Cantilever Activity Dynamic Cantilever Activity
Terminology / Research Activity Terminology / Research Activity

Participant Guide
Participant Guide

www.scme
www.scme
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MEMS Cantilevers Knowledge Probe

Knowledge Probe
Participant Guide

Introduction

The purpose of this assessment is to determine your basic understanding of cantilevers and
microcantilevers and how microcantilevers are used within various applications before you begin
this learning module.

There are ten (10) questions.

1. What is a cantilever?
a. A device used to apply torque to an object (e.g., wrench, screwdriver)
b. A type of beam that is constrained at both ends but able to flex in the middle.
c. A type of beam constrained at one end and suspended freely at the other end.
d. Both b and c

2. Which of the following is NOT a cantilever?
a. A jet's wing
b. A balcony
c. A diving board
d. All of the above are cantilevers

3. MEMS cantilevers are only used as micro and nano-sized transducers.
a. True
b. False

4. Which of the following materials has the highest E value (based on Young's Modulus of
Elasticity)?
a. Diamond
b. Glass
c. Plastic
d. Wood

5. Given four cantilevers of the same material, length and width but different thicknesses
which would provide the highest flexibility?
a. 0.5 microns
b. 1 micron
c. 3 microns
d. 5 microns

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Support for this work was provided by the National Science Foundation's Advanced Technological
Education (ATE) Program.

6. What does CSA stand for?
a. Cantilever Sensor Array
b. Chemical Sensor Array
c. Cantilever Static Applications
d. Cantilever Systems Array

7. Which of the following cantilever properties is measured in the dynamic mode of operation?
a. Angular deflection
b. Resistance
c. Resonant Frequency
d. Both a and b

8. Which of the following cantilever properties is measured in the static mode of operation?
a. Angular deflection
b. Resistance
c. Resonant frequency
d. Both a and b

9. MEMS RF switches are limited to a very narrow frequency range due to their size.
a. True
b. False

10. Which of the following would NOT affect the movement of a microcantilever?
a. Electrostatic force
b. Mass
c. Gravity
d. Heat





Southwest Center for Microsystems Education (SCME)
University of New Mexico


MEMS Applications Topic

MEMS Cantilever Applications
Primary Knowledge (PK)
Shareable Content Object (SCO)

This SCO is part of the Learning Module
MEMS Cantilevers


Target audiences: High School, Community College.





Support for this work was provided by the National Science Foundation's Advanced Technological Education
(ATE) Program through Grants #DUE 0830384 and 0402651.

Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors
and creators, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

Copyright 2009 - 2011 by the Southwest Center for Microsystems Education
and
The Regents of the University of New Mexico

Southwest Center for Microsystems Education (SCME)
800 Bradbury Drive SE, Suite 235
Albuquerque, NM 87106-4346
Phone: 505-272-7150
Website: www.scme-nm.org email contact: mpleil@unm.edu

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App_CantiL_PK10_PG_081011 MEMS Cantilevers Applications PK


MEMS Cantilever Applications Overview

Primary Knowledge
Participant Guide

Description and Estimated Time to Complete

The microcantilever is a widely used component in microsystems devices. Its flexibility and
versatility make it a popular component for a variety of applications in a number of fields (e.g.,
environmental, biomedical, consumer products). This unit discusses several applications of
microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) cantilevers and microcantilever-based devices.

Estimated Time to Complete
Allow approximately 30 minutes.

Introduction


Types of Cantilevers

Cantilevers are found throughout the world in applications ranging from aircraft design to
architecture and more recently, medical diagnostics, nanoscale measurement systems, and forensics.
So what is a cantilever?

A cantilever is a type beam which is supported and constrained at only one end. Based on this
description the wings of most aircrafts, balconies of buildings and certain types bridges are
cantilevers. Free standing radio towers, anchored to the ground, suspended upwards without cables
are also cantilevers. Of course the most familiar cantilever is a diving board.


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Cantilevers come in all sizes. The previous examples range in length from a few meters to hundreds
of meters. In contrast, MEMS cantilevers can be as thin as a few nanometers with lengths that range
from a few microns to several hundred microns. MEMS cantilevers are used in micro transducers,
sensors, switches, actuators, resonators, and probes.

This unit discusses some of the more common applications of MEMS cantilevers. For more in
depth descriptions of how cantilever-based MEMS work or the theory behind how a cantilever
works, refer to SCME Related Units at this end of this unit.

Objectives

Discuss four different applications in which MEMS cantilevers are used
Discuss the advantages and limitations of microcantilevers compared to larger cantilevers.


MEMS Cantilever Applications

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MEMS cantilevers are used as sensors, transducers, probes, needles, transport mechanisms,
resonators, latches, switches and relays. They are used
to detect physical, chemical, and biological particles (target materials) with extremely high
sensitivity and selectivity,
to penetrate tissue in therapeutic and diagnostic applications,
as tweezers or grippers for pick and place applications of nano-sized particles or microscopic
surgeries, and
as transport mechanisms for sensors to detect nano-size particles on a surface.

The MEMS cantilever in the picture is a silicon based piezo cantilever. The cantilever transducer
at the end of the device uses a Wheatstone Bridge design to detect temperature changes. The
output of the bridge is transferred via the MEMS electronics (the four lines and contact pads).

Some areas in which cantilever-based MEMS are already being used include the following:
Biomedical Applications (BioMEMS)
o Biosensors (antigens, antibodies, PSA, DNA, proteins, viruses and micro-organisms)
o Diagnostics
o pH sensors
o Therapeutics
Atomic Force Microscopes (AFM)
Scanning Force Microscope (SFM)
Read/Write storage devices
Photothermic spectroscopy
Environmental Monitoring
Homeland Security
Food Production and Safety
Olfactory Simulation
RF Switching
High frequency resonators



Cantilever sensor (Cantilever Transducers
with electronics) [from Lawrence Livermore
National Labs]


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MEMS Cantilever Fabrication

MEMS cantilevers are fabricated from various materials. The most common materials are silicon
(Si, mono- or polycrystalline or amorphous compositions), silicon nitride (SiN) of various
stochiometries (the relative amount of silicon to nitrogen atoms which make up the silicon nitride),
and polymers. The type of material and the physical dimensions chosen are determined by the
cantilever's application and operational requirements.

The different applications of
microcantilevers require different degrees
of "stiffness" or flexibility. For example,
needles and probes (see picture) need to be
stiff enough to penetrate tissue without
bending. Resonators, latches and cantilever
transport devices need to be stiff enough so
as not to oscillate or flex due to weak
ambient forces. However, such devices
may need certain electrical characteristics
not required by biomedical needles. Some
cantilever sensors and transducers are
fabricated with materials that expand or
contract due to chemical reactions or particle
interactions.

In addition, cantilevers can be built as single devices or in arrays (as the needle array in the SEM).
Therefore, the application of a cantilever determines the materials used, the operating
characteristics of the material, and the fabrication methods.


Probes with MEMS sensors at the probe tips

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MEMS Cantilevers Fabrication Methods


Cantilever Beam released from Silicon (Bulk micromachining)

MEMS cantilevers are commonly fabricated using bulk micromachining, surface micromachining,
or a combination of both. In each micromachining process, a solid structure is released from the
wafer to create a free-standing beam, anchored at one end. In bulk micromachining the cantilever
is released from the bulk of the wafer's substrate. In surface micromachining the cantilever is
released from a surface layer. Both micromachining processes allow for the fabrication of a single
cantilever or an array of cantilevers. These processes also allow for fabrication and integration of
the electronic circuitry and other MEMS components required to interface with the cant ilevers.

MEMS Cantilever Characteristics

MEMS cantilevers' presence is expanding into a variety of applications. This popularity is due
several characteristics which include the following:
Ability to render measurable mechanical responses quickly and directly
Sensitivity to a miniscule amount of external force or stimuli
Low power consumption
Capability to fabricate a high density array with simultaneous responses to different stimuli

The simplicity of the basic cantilever as well as its relatively long history in small device
applications makes it a key device to study.


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MEMS Cantilevers as Transducers


Microcantilever transducers are the most versatile applications of MEMS as well as NEMS
(Nanoelectromechanical Systems). MEMS sensors incorporate cantilever transducers with
dimensions in the micro or nano-range. Their minute size allows them to interface with integrated
circuits on the same chip in order to provide analysis and feedback.

Microcantilevers that are used to sense the presence of a certain particle or analyte are coated with
a chemically sensitive material. This material needs to provide for a high degree of specificity in
detecting certain particles or "analytes" within a sample. In some biomedical applications,
biomolecules may be used as the cantilever coating so that they can better detect specific analytes
within a small blood sample. This graphic below is an example of application.


Nanocantilevers coated with antibodies* (blue-green) that
capture viruses (red spheres). As the cantilevers identify and
capture more virus molecules, one or more of the
mechanical or electrical characteristics of the cantilevers
can change and be detected by an electronic interface.
The size of the particle being detected and captured is one of
the factors affecting the size of the cantilever. [Image
generated and printed with permission by Seyet, LLC]

*Antibodies are proteins produced in the blood in response
to the presence of an antigen (e.g., virus, bacteria, toxin).


As transducers, microcantilevers rely on their flexibility or elasticity to create some type of
measurable change when exposed to external stimuli. The cantilever's reaction to an external
stimulus is referred to as mechanical stress. This stress results in a change in one of the cantilever's
mechanical or electrical properties. The most common properties used to measure this change are
the cantilever's
natural resonant frequency,
angular deflection, or
resistivity.

A discussion on how these properties are used can be found in the SCME unit "How Does a
Cantilever Work?"


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Examples of Microcantilevers in Sensors

Microcantilevers are fabricated as a single device (i.e., a probe or needle left image) or as several
devices arranged in a sensor array. (right image) Applications for cantilever-based sensor arrays
are endless. Following are some of the current applications for cantilever-based sensors.








Illustration of a MEMS Needles array
with close-up of a needles tip
Single MEMS probe
[Image source: Lawrence Livermore
National Labs]

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Chemical Sensor Arrays (CSA)

A chemical sensor array (CSA) is designed to detect and measure the amount or concentration of
one or more substances within a given sample or environment. For example, a CSA used in the
medical field identifies the amount of a specific antibody or antibodies with a small blood sample.

CSAs are built to be chemically discriminating. This means that a CSA can be designed with an
individual cantilever or a set of cantilevers within the array able to detect one and only one analyte
within the sample. The same array can have numerous discriminating cantilevers allowing for the
detection of several different analytes within the same sample as shown in the figure below. The
different colors of target materials indicate different analytes. The probe coating of each cantilever
is designed to bond with only one specific analyte.


A CSA with Discriminating Cantilever Coatings

An artificial nose is an example of a CSA. Each cantilever transducer in an artificial nose is
designed for pattern recognition of a specific odor. The artificial nose is used as a recognition tool
to identify certain vapors and their concentration with a sample or space. One could think of them
as being the MEMS version of a bloodhound.

For more on CSAs, see the unit on "Chemical Sensor Arrays".


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Applications of Microcantilever Sensors and Sensor Arrays

Gas leak detectors (automobiles, airplanes, space shuttles and the space station)
Detection and characterization of chemicals in liquid and gaseous states
Biosensors (detect and measure antibodies, protein, enzymes, antigens, and DNA)
Sensors for DNA hybridization and Protein binding
pH sensors
Glucose sensors
Biomolecular analysis
Charged-particle flux detector
Various volatile organic compounds


Advantages of Cantilever Sensors

There are several advantages to using microcantilevers in sensors:
Microscale size
Ease of constructing many cantilevers in one array
Ability to detect multiple analytes in one solution using one MEMS device
Extremely high sensitivity
Extremely high selectivity
Flexibility of its working environment (air, vacuum, liquid)
Wide dynamic range
Low power consumption


Microcantilevers as Transport Devices

As transducers, microcantilevers need some degree of flexibility in order to "bend" when exposed
to its target. As a transport device, a microcantilever needs a higher degree of stiffness. However,
for some transport applications, such as the Atomic Force Microscope (AFM) cantilever, some
"bending capability" is still required. Following are examples of three applications for cantilevers
used as transport devices.


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Cantilevers as Transport Devices: The AFM


AFM Cantilever and Tip

An Atomic Force Microscopes (AFMs) is a cantilever-based MEMS. It is a high-resolution
scanning probe microscope with demonstrated resolutions in fractions of a nanometer. An AFM
provides a three-dimensional profile of the surface being scanned.

In an atomic force microscope the cantilever is used to transport a ceramic or semiconductor probe
constructed on the suspended end of the cantilever. (Refer to the figure of the AFM Cantilever and
Tip) One type of AFM deflects a laser off the top of the cantilever. As the tip interacts with the
sample surface, it experiences forces that repel or attract it to the sample. The electronics of the
AFM are designed to maintain a constant force between the surface and the tip so that the probe
moves in a parallel path relative to the sample surface.

As the cantilever probe moves in a constant parallel path above the sample's surface, the cantilever
is pushed and pulled up and down mirroring the path of the tip. This interaction bends the extended
portion of the cantilever causing a change in the angular deflection of the laser on the cantilevers
surface. These changes are detected and translated as variations in vertical distances on the
sample's surface.

(For more information on AFMs, see the SCME unit on Atomic Force Microscopes.)


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Cantilevers as Transport Devices: Read/write storage

MEMS cantilevers have been considered for MEMS read/write storage devices. In storage devices,
the MEMS cantilever is used to transport a probe tip
constructed on the suspended end of a cantilever
(similar to that in the AFM). These tips have a
diameter of approximately 10 nm. The cantilever
and tip are suspended over a polymer film used as the
storage medium.

The tips detect (read) the presence or absence of
matter in the polymer film (0 data bit or 1 data bit).
They also move or displace matter (write) a few
nanometers in width (create a bit or erase a bit). (See
figure of IBM Millipede)

It is projected that MEMS read/write storage devices
will be able to store 1 Tbit/in
2
(1 Gbit/mm
2
) of data
in a unit the size of a postage stamp. This technology
is ideally suited for use in mobile devices such as
digital cameras, cell phones and USB sticks. Other
possible applications include lithography on the
nanometer scale, as well as atomic and molecular
manipulation.
2
However, even though several
prototypes of this device have been made, such
devices are still not commercially available.
Following is a brief discussion of the IBM Millipede
Prototype.
IBM Millipede - Close-up of read/write cantilevers
3

[Photo courtesy of IBM]


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IBM Millipede Prototype

IBM researchers in Zurich have built a parallel, ultra-dense read/write storage device prototype.
(See figure of the IBM Prototype). This device consists of a microcantilever array positioned over a
storage medium made of a polymer film (2). The most recent prototype (2005) consists of a 64 x
64 array of 4,096 cantilevers providing a terabyte
of storage on a single chip.
2
The end of each
cantilever has a probe tip one micrometer in length
and 10 nanometers wide at the apex (1). An
electromagnetic actuation precisely moves the
storage medium in the x-y directions. Each probe
tip reads and writes to a storage area of 100 m x
100 m.
3


Each cantilever consists of a micro-sized sensor for
reading and a heating resistor in the probe tip for
writing. To write data, the probe tips are heated
and pressed into the surface of the polymer film
creating an indention or data bit a few nanometers
in size. To read data, the reading sensor in the
cantilever is slightly heated. As the storage
medium moves under the cantilever, the tip moves
in and out of data indentions. As the tip moves into
an indention (a data bit), the temperature of the
sensor decreases due to a higher surface area
between the tip and the polymer surface. The
decreased temperature is sensed as a corresponding
resistance change and thus, a 1 or data bit.
3

IBM Prototype (32 x 32 array)
5

[Photo courtesy of IBM]

MEMS Cantilevers as Switches

MEMS switches are typically broadband switches meaning that they can operate over a wide
frequency range. In theory, MEMS RF switches direct and control signals as high as 50 GHz and
possibly higher. Because of their low power consumption, MEMS switches significantly increase
the battery life of many handheld applications such as cell phones and PDAs.

MEMS switches are widely used in RF applications. Due to their size, low power consumption,
faster switching speeds, higher linearity, and versatility, MEMS switches are replacing
electromechanical relay devices as well as solid-state devices.


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A MEMS RF Switch

A MEMS RF switch (refer to figure) is typically a metal cantilever or non-metal cantilever with a
metal tip (used as a contact). The end of the cantilever floats above an electrode or contact or both.
The distance between the two contacts is
usually 1 to 3 micrometers. When a voltage is
applied to the pull-down electrode, the resultant
electrostatic force pulls the cantilever contact
towards the lower contact (RF Transmission
line in figure) until the two come together.
Upon contact, the switch is closed. This contact
effectively creates a short circuit, allowing
current to flow.

MEMS RF Switch

Microcantilevers as Needles

In the medical field, micro and nano-sized cantilevers are being used as needles and as probes for
diagnostics, therapeutics and research.

A micro-sized needle is capable of taking a much
smaller blood sample than its macro-equivalent by
drawing blood flow via capillary force. Because of its
size, the needles injection is relatively painless and
even pain-free, depending on the subject. Such needles
are stronger than steel and will not break when
penetrating tissue.

Micro and nano-sized needles are
used singly and in needle-arrays for drug delivery
applications. The image to the right illustrates a
microneedle which can be made with silicon. Such
needles can be as small as 40 m in diameter and 500
m tall.


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Microcantilevers as Probes



Diseases such as Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's have helped to mobilize research into using
micro and nano-sized cantilevers and cantilever arrays as neural probes (see figure). Neural probes
and neural probe arrays are being developed for a variety of applications:
Studying the brain network
Studying the central and peripheral nervous system
Treating of Neurological disease through the use of neural
prostheses

Neuroprosthetic devices are already being used successfully to
alleviate the symptoms due to Parkinson's disease and deafness.
For Parkinson's disease, neuroprosthetics are implanted deep into
the patient's brain to enable deep brain stimulation. For the
hearing impaired, a Cochlear implant is a neuroprosthetic that
allows a deaf person to hear noises never heard before. (See
diagram of Cochlear Implant) A neural probe can be designed to
provide recording and stimulation of specific sites in the nervous
system restoring function that was lost due to disease or trauma.
Neuroprosthetic devices have become one of the
most important emerging technologies in
biomedical engineering applications.



Cochlear Implant
[Image courtesy of National Institute of
Health]

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Food For Thought

1. How are macro-sized cantilevers similar to micro-sized cantilevers?

2. How are they different?

3. What are some possible applications for microcantilevers that were not discussed?

4. How does application determine the stiffness characteristic of the cantilever?


Summary

MEMS cantilevers are used for a wide variety of applications. The specific application defines the
best geometric shape of the cantilever, and the material from which it should be made. These two
parameters define the structures stiffness characteristics (spring constant). The MEMS cantilever
is a cornerstone component used in a wide variety of microsystems including micro-chemical
sensor arrays, atomic force microscopes, microswitches, and neural probes.


References

1.
"What is an Atomic Force Microscope?" Department of Chemical and Environmental
Engineering. University of Toledo.
http://www.che.utoledo.edu/nadarajah/webpages/whatsafm.html
2.
""Millipede" small scale MEMS prototype shown at CeBIT." Nano Tsunami. Rschlikon, 3
March 2005. http://www.voyle.net/MEMS/MEMS%202005/MEMS%202005-0006.htm
3.
"IBM's Millipede Project Demonstrates Trillion-bit Storage Density". IBM Research. Zurich.
June 11, 2002.
http://domino.research.ibm.com/comm/pr.nsf/pages/news.20020611_millipede.html
4.
"IBMs Millipede Memory Chip". IEEE Global History Network. September 2008.
http://www.ieeeghn.org/wiki/index.php/IBMs_Millipede_Memory_Chip
5.
"Atomic Force MEMS Memory". 2006 IEEE International Electron Devices Meeting. Paper
#32.l ("Thousands of Micro-Cantilevers for Highly Parallel and Ultra-Dense Data Storage," P.
Vettiger et al, IBM Research) http://www.his.com/~iedm/presskit/force.html
6.
Microneedle array image: Fabricated by Professor Kazuo SATO, Professor, Department of
Micro-Nano Systems Engineering, and Director, Center for Creative Engineering, Graduate
School of Engineering, Nagoya University
7.
Neural Probe: http://helios.snu.ac.kr/sub_02-eng.html


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Glossary


Analyte: A substance or chemical constituent that is undergoing analysis or being measured.

Atomic Force Microscopes (AFM): A device for mapping surface atomic structures by measuring
the force acting on the tip of a sharply pointed object that is moved over the surface.

BioMEMS: MEMS with applications for the biological / analytical chemistry market.

Cantilever: A beam supported at one end and with the other end suspended freely outwards.

Chemical Sensor Arrays (CSA): An array of sensors that chemical reacts with a target material
resulting in a measurable change (i.e. resonant frequency or mass) with the sensor.

Electrostatic: Of or related to electric charges at rest or static charges.

MEMS: Micro-Electro Mechanical Systems microscopic devices such as sensors and actuators,
normally fabricated on silicon wafers.

Resonant Frequency: The frequency at which a moving member or a circuit has a maximum output
for a given input.

Resonators: A device or system that exhibits resonance or resonant behavior.

Sensor: A device that responds to a stimulus, such as heat, light, or pressure, and generates a signal
that can be measured or interpreted.

Transducer: A substance or device that converts input energy of one form into output energy of
another form.


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SCME Related Units

How Does a Cantilever Work?
Chemical Sensor Arrays
Atomic Force Microscopes
Cantilever Inquiry Activities I and II
Cantilever Activity: Resonant Frequency vs. Mass


Disclaimer
The information contained herein is considered to be true and accurate; however the Southwest Center for
Microsystems Education (SCME) makes no guarantees concerning the authenticity of any statement. SCME
accepts no liability for the content of this unit, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of
the information provided.

Unit Evaluation

The Southwest Center for Microsystems Education (SCME) would like your feedback on this
primary knowledge unit. Your feedback allows SCME to maintain the quality and relevance of this
information.

To provide feedback, please visit http://scme-nm.org . Click on SCO Feedback.

Your feedback is greatly appreciated.

Unit Contributors

Developers and Design
Dr. Matthias Pleil, Principal Investigator, SCME; Research Associate Professor of Mechanical
Engineering, UNM
Mary Jane Willis, Instructional Design

Subject Matter Expert and Editors
Dr. Matthias Pleil, Principal Investigator, SCME; Research Associate Professor of Mechanical
Engineering, UNM
Barbara C. Lopez, UNM Research Engineer

Graphics
Junifer Nez, SCME

Support for this work was provided by the National Science Foundation's Advanced Technological
Education (ATE) Program.






Southwest Center for Microsystems Education (SCME)
University of New Mexico


MEMS Applications Topic

How Does a Cantilever Work?
Primary Knowledge (PK)
Shareable Content Object (SCO)

This SCO is part of the Learning Module
MEMS Cantilevers


Target audiences: High School, Community College.





Support for this work was provided by the National Science Foundation's Advanced Technological Education
(ATE) Program through Grants #DUE 0830384 and 0402651.

Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors
and creators, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

Copyright 2009 - 2011 by the Southwest Center for Microsystems Education
and
The Regents of the University of New Mexico

Southwest Center for Microsystems Education (SCME)
800 Bradbury Drive SE, Suite 235
Albuquerque, NM 87106-4346
Phone: 505-272-7150
Website: www.scme-nm.org email contact: mpleil@unm.edu
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App_CantiL_PK11_PG_071510 How Does a Microcantilever Work?
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App_CantiL_PK11_PG_071510 How Does a Microcantilever Work?


How Does a Cantilever Work?

Primary Knowledge
MEMS Cantilever Learning Module
Participant Guide

Description and Estimated Time to Complete

The microcantilever is a widely used component in microsystems devices. Its flexibility and
versatility make it a popular component for a variety of applications. This unit provides information
on the basic characteristics of cantilevers and how these characteristics affect the operational
characteristics of macro and microcantilevers.

Estimated Time to Complete
Allow approximately 30 minutes

Introduction

A cantilever is a type of beam constrained at one end with the other end extending freely outwards.
In most macroapplications, the cantilever is rigid for minimal movement. No one wants to see a jet's
wings flapping or feel a balcony bend when walking out to the end. However, a diving board needs
to flex under a load; therefore, it is designed for more flexibility.



In microapplications, some cantilevers are rigid allowing for a controlled movement. Other
cantilevers are more flexible allowing for variable degrees of movements. Flexible microcantilevers
are used in applications where an external force or intrinsic stress causes the cantilever to flex or
bend (e.g. atomic force microscopes, diagnostic transducers, chemical sensor arrays). More rigid
cantilevers are used as needles, probes, or transport mechanisms for probes or transducers.

This unit covers the theory of how a cantilever works. It will identify differences in the operation of
macro and microcantilevers.

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Objectives

Discuss the static mode of operation for microcantilevers.
Discuss the dynamic mode of operation for microcantilevers.
Discuss the differences in the operation of macrocantilevers and microcantilevers.


Cantilever Properties

Several factors affect if and how a cantilever moves or how it responds to external stimuli. Such
factors include its dimensions (length, width, thickness) and the properties of the material from
which it is made. The geometric shape, as well as the material used to build the cantilever
determines the cantilever's stiffness (how it responds when a force is applied).


Comparison in the bending of wood and polypropylene cantilevers under the same load (F)

In reference to the material, if one cantilever is made of oak and another with the same dimensions is
made of polypropylene, each responds differently to the same external force (see figure). Oak has
more than five times the stiffness of polypropylene; therefore, oak bends less than polypropylene
under the same load or stress.

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A Cantilever's Dimensions

For a simple rectangular cantilever, the thickness, length, and width of the beam determine the
geometric shape. Each of these parameters affects how a cantilever moves and bends. For
example, a short cantilever is stiffer than a long cantilever of the same material, width and
thickness (see figure below.

A short cantilever vs. a long cantilever

In macroapplications, short cantilevers are used for balconies and longer cantilevers are used for
diving boards. In microapplications, a short cantilever (~ 10 microns) works best as a latch or a
needle. A longer cantilever (~100 microns) works best as a transducer or sensor. However, there
are applications where a long cantilever (e.g. a 1.2 mm neural probe) requires the same rigidity as a
10 micron needle. In this case, the other cantilever dimensions (width, thickness) and possibly the
material would be adjusted to provide the rigidity needed.

Questions

In reference to the width of a cantilever, what are two applications where one application requires a
narrower cantilever than the other application?

How does the width of the cantilever affect its flexibility?

MEMS Cantilevers

Microcantilevers are commonly used in microelectromechanical systems (MEMS). Such systems
include the following applications:
Atomic force microscopes
Chemical sensor arrays
Read/write storage devices
Olfactory systems
Environmental Monitoring
RF switches

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Microcantilever Modes of Operation

Several of these MEMS applications operate the cantilever in either a static mode or operation or a
dynamic mode of operation.
The static mode is when the cantilever is in a static state (stationary). Any displacement of the
cantilever due to a load or intrinsic stress generated on or within the cantilever is measured.
The dynamic mode is when the cantilever is externally actuated causing the cantilever to
oscillate at its natural resonant frequency. Any change in the load or mass of the cantilever
results in a change in this frequency. The change in frequency is measured.
The following discussions describe the static and dynamic modes of operation for microcantilevers.

Static Mode


Macrocantilever (diving board) bending under load conditions

In the static mode, a change in the cantilever's z-displacement indicates a change in load or intrinsic
stress. In marocantilevers this displacement is usually due to an external load. Take for instance
the diving board. An 80 pound child would cause a small displacement at the end of the diving
board compared to the child's 175 pound father. The heavier the load (in this case a person), the
greater the displacement or z-bend.

In microapplications this displacement is due to one of two factors:
An external load or force (i.e. Atomic Force Microscopes)
An intrinsic stress (i.e. chemical sensors and transducers)
Displacement caused by either an external load or an intrinsic stress would normally be considered
negligible in the macroscopic world; however, in the micro and nanoscopic worlds, the
displacement is large enough to indicate a change in mass as small as a few nanograms or a surface
stress of several 10
-3
N/m (as indicated in the following image).
1










A gold dot, about 50 nanometers in diameter,
fused to the end of a cantilevered oscillator about
4 micrometers long. A one-molecule-thick layer of
a sulfur-containing chemical deposited on the
gold adds a mass of about 6 attograms, which is
more than enough to measure. [Image courtesy of
Craighead Group/Cornell University]

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Measuring Static Displacement


A finite element analysis (FEA) model showing Microcantilever Displacement under Stress

The static mode of operation measures the amount of cantilever displacement. The finite element
analysis (FEA) model "Microcantilever Displacement under Stress" illustrates the displacement of
a microcantilever due to a thermal stress on the cantilever's surface. As shown, z-displacement
occurs along the full length of the cantilever. The maximum displacement (only 255 nm) occurs at
the suspended end. This is more than enough of a displacement to be measured in the microscopic
world. Nanotechnology has enabled the design and fabrication of nanocantilever sensors capable
of measuring even smaller displacements (e.g. a 10 nm displacement due to a surface stress of
several 10
-3
N/m). [Lang]

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Microcantilevers as Chemical Sensors

One of the primary applications of microcantilevers is in the environmental and biomedical fields.
Chemical sensors incorporate microcantilevers as transducers. Chemical sensors detect, analyze,
and measure specific particles (molecules or atoms) within gas and liquid environments. These
particles are commonly referred to as the target material or analytes.


Probe Coating on a Cantilever Transducer

In order to detect a specific analyte, the microcantilever transducer is fabricated with a probe coating
(see figure) on one surface for static operation or both surfaces for dynamic operation. The probe
coating is a chemically sensitive layer that provides specificity for molecular recognition. As the
analytes are adsorbed by the probe coating, the transducer experiences surface stress or an overall
change in mass which results in cantilever displacement (static) or a change in cantilever oscillations
(dynamic). Different coatings provide different chemical reactions. Following is a discussion of
different chemical reactions that can occur with microcantilever transducers.

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Surface Reaction


Surface Reaction between Analytes and Probe Coating Molecules

Surface reaction is when the analytes are confined to the surface of the probe coating. The figure
shows the probe coating as a monolayer of probe molecules attached to a gold layer of the
cantilever. The reaction is chemisorption of the analytes on the cantilever's surface (the probe
molecules). Notice how the analytes are confined to the surface. The reaction at the surface causes
thermal expansion of the probe coating. Because the gold layer is not experiencing the same
thermal stress as the surface, it tends not to expand. This mismatch results in a bending of the
cantilever.

In our microcantilever in the graphic, if the analytes were chains of molecules, the thermal stress on
the cantilever surface would be greater. This would result in more expansion and a greater bend in
the cantilever.

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Gravity is not a Factor

In the previous figure of surface reactions, it appears that the cantilever is bending just like a diving
board bends with weight. However, it is important to note that microcantilevers are not affected by
gravitational force. Their deflections are related to asymmetric expansion or contraction of the
layers caused by the chemical reactions with the analytes and the probe coating. These reactions
generate mechanical stress within the cantilever.

An example of this mechanical stress is the reaction of two different metal strips bonded together
and heated. Each metal has a different coefficient of thermal expansion. When heated, one metal
expands more than the other. Since they are bonded together, this difference in expansion causes
the bonded strip to bend. The direction it bends depends on which metal expands the most.


Expansion of dissimilar layers

In microcantilevers, two different layers (i.e. a probe layer bonded to a gold layer) will not react in
the same manner. The figure ("Expansion of dissimilar layers") shows a probe coating on top of a
gold layer. The thermally induced stress caused by the reaction between the analytes and the probe
coating results in different rates of expansion and a bending of the cantilever.

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Molecular Sponge


Expansion and Contraction of Probe Coating

In microcantilevers, surface reaction (analytes being adsorbed at the surface) is not the only reaction
that can take place. Analytes can also be adsorbed into the bulk of the probe coating, much like the
adsorption of water into a sponge. As with surface reaction, if the reaction between the coating and
the analytes causes the coating to contract, then the cantilever bends upward. If the coating material
expands due to the reaction, then the cantilever bends downward (as illustrated in the figure
"Expansion and Contraction of Probe Coating").

Measuring Displacement in the Static Mode

As a transducer, the bending of the cantilever is measured primarily in one of two ways:
Change in Angular Deflection ( angular deflection)
Reflective material is embedded as a layer onto the
surface of the cantilever. A laser beam is directed to
and reflected from the cantilever's surface creating a
reference angle of deflection (see figure). As the
cantilever bends the change in the angular deflection
is measured. The measuring device is normally a
position sensitive light detector.
Change in resistance (R) - Piezoresistive material is
embedded as a structured layer within the cantilever. The piezoresistive layer is normally a
doped silicon layer. As the cantilever bends, a change in resistance is measured in the
piezoresistive layer. The change in resistance is proportional to the amount of bend (or stress).

The amount of change in resistance and change in angular deflection is a measurement of how much
target material is adsorbed.


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Application of Static Mode Transducers

A Chemical Sensor Array (CSA) is a MEMS device consisting of an array of microcantilever
transducers. Each transducer is coated on one side with a chemically sensitive thin film (probe
coating). In a CSA, all of the cantilevers can have the same coating, or single cantilevers or sets of
cantilevers can have different coatings. By designing the probe coatings for specific target
materials, the array can be customized to detect a variety of different materials within the same
sample.

Chemical Sensor Array - Static Mode

As shown in the Chemical Sensor Array diagram, specific analytes in the sample are adsorbed by
specific probe coatings on the transducers. The surface stress caused by the adsorption of these
analytes results in a minute bending of the cantilever. The more analytes adsorbed, the greater the
bend. A change in angular deflection is used to measure the amount of bending. This change is
recorded by a detector and the signal is processed (Signal Processing). The specific types of
analytes are identified (Analytes Identification). The concentration of each analyte correlates with
the amount of change in the angular deflection of its respective laser.

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Cantilever Transducers Dynamic Mode

Chemical sensors also use the dynamic mode of operation to detect and measure specific target
materials. Just like the static mode operation, dynamic sensors can consist of one microcantilever
transducer or an array of transducers.

In the dynamic mode the amount of target material is measured by monitoring a change in the
microcantilever's natural resonant frequency. When a dynamic microcantilever is initially excited
by an external actuation such as piezoelectric, magnetic, or electrostatic actuation, it begins to
oscillate. The frequency of oscillation is usually at or near the cantilever's natural frequency (or
resonant frequency). Any change in the physical characteristics of the cantilever - such as its
material, geometry or mass - changes its natural frequency.

Lets Talk about Resonant Frequency

Resonant frequency is the frequency of a system at
which it oscillates at maximum amplitude. With
little damping, this frequency is usually equal to the
system's natural frequency. When a system reaches
this resonant frequency, this state is resonance.






As the mass of the system changes, so does the
resonant frequency. For example, when a baby
bounces on the end of a diving board the diving board will oscillate at a frequency determined by
the diving board characteristics and the mass of the baby. However, if the baby's father and the
baby bounce on the end of the diving board, the frequency changes due to a difference in the mass
added.

Question: Which would result in a higher resonant frequency the baby or the baby and the father?
(Answer: The baby due to the smaller weight)
MEMS Cantilever in Resonance
This image is a MEMS microcantilever
resonating in a Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM)
[Image is licensed under the Creative Commons
Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 ]


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A Bit of Dynamic Theory



Refer to the equations for natural frequency and spring constant.

The natural frequency (
0
) of a cantilever is related to its spring constant (k) and mass (m). This is
true for both macro and microcantilevers.

For a rectangular cantilever beam, the spring constant (k) is a function of
E = Young's modulus of Elasticity (a property of the material)
t = thickness
w = width
l = length

Young's modulus of Elasticity (E) is the measure of the stiffness or elasticity of a given material.
The stiffer or less elastic a material is, the higher the E value. Young's modulus allows the behavior
of a material to be evaluated under a load or stress. Below are values of E for various materials:
Rubber: -0.01 to 0.1 GPa
Polypropylene: 1.5 2 GPa
Oak wood (along grain): 11 GPa
Aluminum alloy: 69 GPa
Glass (all types): 72 GPa
Titanium (Ti): 105 120 GPa
Polycrystalline silicon: 160 GPa
Tungsten (W): 400 410 GPa
Diamond (C): 1050 1200 GPa


So what do you think?

1. Which yields the higher frequency a lower mass or a higher mass cantilever?

2. Which yields the higher frequency a short cantilever or a long cantilever?

3. Which yields the higher frequency a thin cantilever or a thick cantilever?

4. Which cantilever material yields a higher frequency wood or metal, glass or
metal? (Assume the same cantilever dimensions)




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5. What is the spring constant and natural frequency for a poly crystalline silicon cantilever with
the following properties:
2 microns thick
20 microns wide
100 microns long
Polycrystalline silicon density approximately 2.330 kg/cm3
(This one requires a little more than just thought. You'll have to do some calculations)

An Application of Dynamic Mode Transducers


Dynamic Mode Microcantilevers

Dynamic microcantilevers are also used as the transducers for Chemical Sensor Arrays (CSA). In a
dynamic CSA, the cantilevers are initially excited by piezoelectric, magnetic, electrostatic or
thermal actuation. This input causes the cantilevers to oscillate at their resonant frequencies. When
analytes adsorb into the probe coatings on the cantilevers' surfaces it causes a measurable change in
the cantilevers' frequencies.

Since the cantilevers are very small (micro-scale), the sensitivity of these transducers is very high.
As more and more analytes attach to a surface, the cantilever gains mass on its suspended end. This
changes the effective mass of the cantilever. As the mass increases, the resonant frequency of the
cantilever decreases. This resonant shift is detected by an appropriate electronic system. The greater
the amount of analytes in the sample, the greater the amount of accumulated mass, and the greater
the shift in frequency.

[Refer to the SCME Chemical Sensor Array unit for more information on CSAs]

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A Little Theory about AFMs


AFM - Static and Dynamic Modes of Operations

Both the static and dynamic modes are used in the Atomic Force Microscope (AFM) (see figure
above). In the AFM a cantilever is used to transport a probe or transducer above the surface of a
sample. In the static operation (also referred to as the "contact mode"), the probe maintains a path
parallel to the samples surface. In the dynamic operation (also referred to as the "oscillating
mode"), the probe oscillates above the samples surface. The rate of oscillation changes as the z-
dimension of the surface changes. (See SCMEs Atomic Force Microscope unit for more
information on the AFM.)

In order for the microcantilever in an AFM to have the sensitivity to map a surface on the nanometer
scale, it needs to have a low enough spring constant (k). A low spring constant allows it to respond
to very small forces. The cantilever must also have a high resonant frequency so that it does not
begin to oscillate on its own, confusing the measurements. If the spring constant is too high or the
resonant frequency too low, an AFM's cantilever would not be sensitive enough to the surface
variations and would provide noisy data. In addition, this could cause the transducer tip to come in
contact with or drag on the sample's surface. This contact could damage the surface, thereby
changing the surface being measured.

The spring constant for an AFM microcantilever is about 0.1 N/m. A Slinky has a spring constant
of 1.0 N/m, ten times that of a microcantilever. The higher the spring constant (k), the higher the
resonant frequency (
0
) for the same mass (m).

An AFM cantilever has a very small mass (as low as 10
-10
g). Therefore, with a low mass, an AFM
cantilever can still have a high resonant frequency, even though its spring constant is low in
comparison. (Refer to the previous equations under "A Bit of Dynamic Theory.")

Review Questions

How are macroscopic cantilevers similar to microscopic cantilevers in their operation?

How are they different?

What causes a microcantilever to bend?

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Summary


Microcantilevers in an array
[Image courtesy of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories]

Microcantilevers are used for a wide variety of MEMS applications. The specific application
determines the dimensions of the cantilever and its materials.

The microcantilever is the cornerstone component of microsystems. It is used in a wide variety of
applications including micro-chemical sensor arrays, atomic force microscopes, microswitches,
needles and probes.

As transducers microcantilevers are operated in the static and the dynamic modes.

Glossary of Key Terms

Angular deflection: The angle formed between the two extremes of deflection.

Atomic Force Microscope: A device for mapping surface atomic structures by measuring the force
acting on the tip of a sharply pointed object that is moved over the surface.

Cantilever: A beam supported at one end and with the other end suspended freely outwards.

Chemical sensor array: An array of sensors that chemical reacts with a target material resulting in a
measurable change (i.e. resonant frequency or mass) with the sensor.

Displacement: The difference between the initial position of something (as a body or geometric
figure) and any later position.

Dynamic: Of or relating to energy or to objects in motion.

MEMS: Micro-Electro Mechanical Systems microscopic devices such as sensors and actuators,
normally fabricated on silicon wafers.

Piezoresistive: The piezoresistive effect describes the changing electrical resistance of a material
due to applied mechanical stress.


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Resonant frequency: The frequency at which a moving member or a circuit has a maximum output
for a given input.

Sensors: A device that responds to a stimulus, such as heat, light, or pressure, and generates a signal
that can be measured or interpreted.

Spring constant: For an object that obeys Hookes law, spring constant is the force per unit
extension (N/m).

Static: Of or relating to bodies at rest or forces that balance each other.

Transducer: A substance or device that converts input energy of one form into output energy of
another.

Young's Modulus of Elasticity (E): The measure of the stiffness or elasticity of a given material.
The stiffer or less elastic a material is, the higher the E value.

Related SCME Units

MEMS Cantilever Applications
Cantilever Activity: Resonant Frequency vs. Mass
Cantilever Inquiry Activity II: Static Movement
Chemical Sensor Arrays
Atomic Force Microscopes

References

1.
"Cornell researchers move beyond 'nano' to 'atto' to build a scale sensitive enough to weigh a
virus". Bill Steele. Cornell News. April 2, 2004.
2.
"Cantilever In-Class Activity (PowerPoint Presentation)". Mathias Pleil. Southwest Center for
Microsystems Education (SCME). University of New Mexico.
3.
"Cantilever In Electromechanical Systems" Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cantilever





Disclaimer
The information contained herein is considered to be true and accurate; however the Southwest
Center for Microsystems Education (SCME) makes no guarantees concerning the authent icity of
any statement. SCME accepts no liability for the content of this unit, or for the consequences of any
actions taken on the basis of the information provided.


Support for this work was provided by the National Science Foundation's Advanced Technological
Education (ATE) Program.






Southwest Center for Microsystems Education (SCME)
University of New Mexico


MEMS Applications Topic

Chemical Sensor Arrays
Primary Knowledge (PK)
Shareable Content Object (SCO)


This SCO is part of the Learning Module
MEMS Cantilevers


Target audiences: High School, Community College.





Support for this work was provided by the National Science Foundation's Advanced Technological Education
(ATE) Program through Grants #DUE 0830384 and 0402651.

Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors
and creators, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

Copyright 2009-2011 by the Southwest Center for Microsystems Education
and
The Regents of the University of New Mexico

Southwest Center for Microsystems Education (SCME)
800 Bradbury Drive SE, Suite 235
Albuquerque, NM 87106-4346
Phone: 505-272-7150
Website: www.scme-nm.org email contact: mpleil@unm.edu
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Chemical Sensor Arrays
Primary Knowledge

MEMS Cantilever Learning Module
Participant Guide

Description and Estimated Time to Complete

Chemical Sensor Arrays (CSA) are MEMS devices that gather, detect, measure, and identify a
substance or several substances in a minute sample. That sample could be a few drops of blood, an
unknown gas or smell, or an unknown liquid. Many of these arrays are cantilever-based, using micro
and nano-sized cantilevers. This unit provides information about MEMS Chemical Sensor Arrays,
primarily the cantilever-based arrays. It covers how they work and where they are used.

It would be to your benefit to have reviewed SCMEs How Does a Cantilever Work? prior to
completing this unit.

Estimated Time to Complete
Allow approximately 20 minutes

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Introduction

A Chemical Sensor Array (CSA) is an array of microtransducers and supporting integrated circuits
(see process flow diagram below). A CSA is designed to detect and measure the amount or
concentration of one or more substances contained in a sample environment. The substances,
referred to as target materials or analytes, could be specific gas molecules or atoms, antibodies or
proteins, mercury vapor or volatile organic compounds. One or more analytes in a sample are
detected and the quantity measured using microtransducers. The system electronics analyze and
identify the type and/or quantity of analytes.



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The microtransducers of CSAs could be optical devices, electronic diodes, microcantilevers,
biological cells and molecules (biological, physical or chemical). The application and, more
specifically, the target material being analyzed, determine the type of transducer used. The most
common transducer used in CSAs is the microcantilever.


Chemical Sensor Array with Analytes

In a cantilever-based CSA, the target material is detected when it comes in contact with a chemically
sensitive material on a cantilever's surface (see figure above). The amount of target material is
measured by monitoring a change in one or more of the cantilever's mechanical or electrical
properties, such as displacement, resistance, or resonant frequency.

This unit will focus on the applications of chemical sensor arrays and the operation of cantilever-
based CSA operation. Many of the following applications are not cantilever-based, but rather an
array of electrodes, diodes, or biomolecules use to detect specific molecules.

Objectives

State at least five applications of a MEMS CSA.
Compare and contrast the operations of a static and dynamic cantilever-based CSA.
Describe at least two operating characteristics of a CSA.


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Chemical Sensor Array Applications

The MEMS Chemical Sensor Array (CSA) is an analytical tool used in a variety of applications and
microenvironments. It is currently used to monitor glucose levels in diabetics, detect fuel leaks in a
space shuttle, identify toxic gases in an environment, identify various types of cells in a blood
sample, and analyze DNA hybridization. Common applications of MEMS CSAs are found in the
following fields:
Medical
Forensics
Environmental control
Aerospace
Fragrance design
Food production
Security and defense

Within these fields, CSAs are used for the following applications (to name just a few):
Detection of chemical vapors
Detection of biological agents (medical as well as biowarfare agents)
Vibration monitors
Medical diagnostics and therapeutics
Olfactory applications
Sample analysis (gas or liquids)

Following are briefs descriptions of some chemical arrays that are already on the market or currently
being tested for the market.

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Lab-on-a-Chip (LOC) Array

A lab-on-a-chip (LOC) is a MEMS that incorporates several laboratory functions on a single chip.
An LOC can consist of a chemical sensor array designed to sense one or more analytes, a micropump
to handle the flow of the sample to and from the array, and the electronics to control the device and
analyze the output of the CSA.


Lab-on-a-chip Blood Analysis Chemical Sensor Array
[Photo courtesy of Y. Tai, California Institute of Technology]

The Artificial Nose (or ENose)

For fragrance design, food production, and gas detection, the CSA is used as an artificial olfactory
system (an artificial nose). It analyzes a fragrance by separating the component particles that when
combined, provide an overall scent. In food production, MEMS CSAs are used to detect specific
compounds in a food's odor, such as the odor of a fish or meat. By analyzing the amount of the
compounds present, a CSA can determine the freshness of the meat or the presence of contaminants.
2




For gas detection, the artificial nose can detect a specific gas or the composition of a gas. The
artificial nose is currently used in the space station to detect ammonia.
3
In counterterrorism CSAs
This Lab-on-a-chip (LOC) is a
miniaturized, portable version of a
blood-count machine that is being
tested by astronauts. One portion
of the LOC uses a CSA to analyze
blood samples in real-time to
diagnose infection, allergies,
anemia or deficiencies in the
immune system.
1

The picture is the ENose developed by NASA
and tested on the International Space Station in
late 2008. The ENose Sensor Unit (the darker-
looking metal object) is housed in its Interface
Unit (white). The ruler, shown for size
comparison, is 12 inches (about 30.5 cm) long.
3




The ENose developed by NASA's Advanced
Environmental Monitoring and Control division
[Graphic source: NASA]

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are being designed to detect toxic and hazardous gases in the field. Such devices could be
incorporated into the helmets or clothing of military personnel.

How Does the ENose Work?
4




The ENose uses a collection of 16 different polymer films on a set of electrodes. The graphic (a)
illustrates six films/electrodes. These films are specially designed to conduct electricity based on
their resistance. A baseline resistance reading is established (a) with no odors (ambient air). When a
substance -- such as the stray molecules from an ammonia leak -- is absorbed into these films, the
films expand slightly (b), changing their resistivity. The amount of expansion of each film
determines the amount of its electrode current.




Because each film is made of a different polymer, each one reacts to a chemical compound in a
slightly different way. While the changes in resistivity in a single polymer film would not be enough
to identify a compound, the varied changes in 16 films produce a distinctive, identifiable pattern for a
specific compound. Graphic (c) shows a different compound being sensed.



[Graphics Courtesy of NASA's Advanced Environmental Monitoring and Control division]

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Bio-Sensors

In medical diagnostics, CSAs are used as bio-sensors to analyze samples for substances such as
antibodies, proteins, antigens, and DNA. They are used for glucose monitors, pH sensors, protein
binding, DNA detection, and gene expression profiling.

DNA or gene microarrays are biosensors used to
analyze and measure the activity of genes. These
arrays enables scientists and doctors to analyze
complex biological problems:
Identify the genetic variations that could play
a role in diseases such as Alzheimer's and
Parkinson's.
Analyze and test for viruses that cause
diseases such as SARS (Severe Acute
Respiratory Syndrome), HIV, tuberculosis,
and other infectious diseases.
Analyze a patient's blood to determine the
best drug and dosage for that patient's
particular disease.

Researchers can use microarrays and other
methods to measure changes in gene
expression (activity) and thereby learn how
cells respond to a disease or to some other
challenge.
5
Gene expression microarrays
(image right) measure tens of thousands of
genes on a single GeneChip and provide
scientists the data to understand regulatory
processes at the cellular level.


CSAs in Destructive Environments

Due to their small size, design and packaging, MEMS CSAs are used in environments that are
destructive to comparable macrosensors and where other types of sensors are ineffective. Such
environments include
electric and magnetic fields,
hazardous chemical vapors,
nuclear radiation,
radio frequency (RF) radiation, and
contaminated and hazardous liquids.

Gene expression values from microarray
experiments can be represented as heat maps to
visualize the results of data analysis. The green
represents reduced gene expression or activity.
[Image is public domain. Image source:
Wikipedia: Gene Expression Profiling]

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The Cantilever-based CSA

The most common CSA transducer is the microcantilever. Its versatility and low construction costs
make it an ideal transducer for a variety of analytes. CSA microcantilevers are typically 10 500 m
long, up to 100 m wide, and up to 2 m thick. The top or bottom surface or both surfaces are coated
with a chemically reactive material designed specifically for the analyte targeted.
2
For static CSAs
in optical fiber array applications, the standard pitch of the microcantilevers is 250 mm, with a
typical spring constant of 0.02 N/m and resonance frequency of 4 kHz.
2


The scanning electron image below is of a microcantilever CSA developed by the Cantilever Array
Sensor Group at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. Such cantilevers are being developed for
applications in chemistry, physics, biochemistry and medicine. They are ideal for such
applications because they are miniaturized, ultrasensitive and fast-responding sensors.
13




Microcantilever Chemical Sensor Array
[Image courtesy of Dr. Christoph Gerber, Institute of Physics, University of Basel]


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How does a Cantilever-Based CSA work?

Cantilever Construction


Chemically Reactive Probe Coating

The primary components of a CSA are the microcantilever transducers. The suspended end of each
microcantilever is coated with a probe material that has an attraction to specific molecules in the test
environment. For cantilever-based CSAs, the cantilevers can be constructed with different surface
materials on the top and the bottom. In some CSAs, the top surface is coated with a chemically
reactive coating (probe coating) which may exist at the suspended end of the cantilever or may cover
the entire top surface. In the fabrication process, the deposition of this selective coating is referred to
as "functionalizing the surface." By functionalizing the surface, the cantilever can be designed to
have the target material stick to or adsorbed to a specific portion of the cantilever's surface (e.g. the
tip, the middle, the full length of the cantilever or both the top and bottom surfaces). The fabrication
process can be designed to selectively coat only the desired portion of the cantilever's surface with
the chemically reactive coating.

On the bottom of the cantilever, the coating may be to be neutral so that it will not react with any of
the substances in the sample environment. However, some applications have the probe coating on
both the top and bottom surfaces of the cantilever.



Probe Coating and Analytes (Target Material)

The probe material is a chemically sensitive substance that experiences a chemical change when it
adsorbs a specific target material (analyte). By designing a CSA with a different probe coating on
each cantilever, a CSA can be used to detect several different substances within the same sample.
The figure (Probe Coating and Analytes) illustrates an array that can detect three different analytes
(green, purple and red). The fourth microcantilever is the reference cantilever.


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How a CSA Works

(Refer to figure: "How a CSA works") When a target material in the sample binds to the probe
coating on a cantilever's surface, it causes a minute, but measurable change in the cantilever's
mechanical or electrical properties. As more target material attaches to the cantilever's surface, the
resulting change is measured. This change is processed by the integrated circuitry (Signal
Processing) of the MEMS into relative data. This data is analyzed and compared to reference data
for determining the type and amount of material (Analytes Identification).

One or more of the cantilever's properties are monitored. The properties monitored depend on the
design of the system. Some systems monitor a static property such as displacement or resistance.
Others monitor a dynamic property such as resonant frequency. (Note about resonant frequency:
Mechanical systems like to vibrate at a natural frequency which is a property of their geometric
design. The natural frequency is at or near the system's resonant frequency.)


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An Interesting Fact

It is interesting to note, that prior to the onset of micron and nano-technology, these minute changes
in the mechanical properties of such small devices were considered negligible. However, current
technology provides innovative methods for measuring these negligible changes allowing microscale
components to be monitored and measured like their macroscopic equivalents.

Mass-Sensitive Transducer


Microtransducer affected by change in mass

Since cantilever transducers are very small (from a few nanometers to hundreds of microns in size),
their sensitivity is high compared to similar macrotransducers. The overall mass of a microcantilever
is measurably affected by the chemisorption or adsorption of a very small quantity or mass of
material (even a few molecules or atoms can be detected). A small change in mass causes a
measurable change in one or more of these cantilever's properties. For example, more mass causes a
greater displacement or a lower resonant frequency. This type of cantilever transducer is referred to
as a mass-sensitive transducer.

It is important to note that due to the micron size of the cantilever and the nano size of the analyte,
the cantilever's bend or displacement is due to a small amount of mass, not weight. Weight is mass
affected by the force of gravity. A diving board is a cantilever that bends due to the weight of a
person standing on its suspended end. The microcantilever has too little mass to be affected by the
force of gravity.

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Stress-Induced Curvature


Stress-induced curvature

Mass-sensitive transducers are not as effective as the transducer and analytes get smaller. For
applications such as biomedical diagnostics and gas detection, the analytes can be nano-sized
particles (1 to 100 nm). For such applications, cantilever displacement is dependent upon a surface
stress caused by the chemisorption of the analytes on or within the probe coating. When the analytes
adsorb into the probe coating an expansion or contraction occurs (see figure). This cause the
cantilever to bend or flex. This is called "stress-induced curvature."

Static and Dynamic CSAs

There are two operational modes used to detect changes in the cantilever's mechanical or electrical
properties: Static and Dynamic.

The static mode measures the bending or flexing of the cantilever due to stress or a change in mass.
When the probe coating captures the target analytes, the cantilever bends due to an increase in mass
or stress of the probe coating. This bending is a measurable static response.

The dynamic mode measures a shift in the cantilever's resonant frequency due to an increase in
mass. When the probe coating captures the target analytes, the cantilever's resonant frequency shifts
to a lower frequency. This shift is due to an increase in mass which is seen as an increase in the
cantilever's overall mass.

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Static Mode

In the static mode of operation, as the chemically
reactive surface selectively adsorbs the target
material, the cantilever bends due to an increase
in mass or surface stress caused by an increase of
analytes bonding to the probe coating's
molecules (see figure). The bending causes a
measurable cantilever displacement. This
displacement can be measured by sensing a
change in angular deflection ( angular
deflection) or change in resistance (R).


Cantilever displacement due to surface stress

Static - R

To measure a change in resistance, the microcantilevers are constructed with a piezoresistive layer.
This layer is usually a doped silicon layer fabricated into the cantilever during construction. As the
target material is adsorbed by the chemically reactive layer the cantilever bends. This creates a
measurable change in the resistance of the cantilevers piezoresistive layer.

Static angular deflection

To measure a change in angular
deflection, a reflective layer consisting of
a material such as gold is coated onto the
surface of the cantilever prior to the
chemically reactive layer. A laser beam is
directed to and reflected from the
cantilever's surface creating a reference
angle. As the cantilever bends, the
change in the angular deflection is
detected by measuring the change in
position of the reflected beam.

With both measurements, the amount of
change in resistance or change in angular
deflection is related to the amount of
target material adsorbed in the probe
coating.
Measuring Displacement with a change in Angular Deflection

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Dynamic Mode

In the dynamic CSA, the cantilevers are initially excited by a piezoelectric, magnetic, electrostatic or
thermal actuation. Target molecules in the sample environment attach to each of the cantilevers'
surfaces. As with the static mode, the selective probe material on the cantilevers' surfaces determines
which molecules adsorb to which surface. This adsorption changes the cantilever's mass resulting in
a change in resonant frequency. The amount of change in resonant frequency is a function of the
amount of mass loading. The change in mass is dependent upon the concentration of the target
material within the sample environment and the amount of time the cantilever is exposed to the
sample.

Static or Dynamic?


CSA for Liquid Environment

The type of CSA (static or dynamic) used for a specific application is determined by the sample
environment. In liquid environments the damping effect of the liquid on the cantilever's movement
can make frequency measurements very difficult resulting in false readings. Therefore, static CSA's
are primarily used in liquid environments (see figure above). In gaseous environments, both static
and dynamic CSA's are used. In order to gather more information from the sample and ensure its
accuracy, some CSAs use a combination of static and dynamic modes.

Operating Characteristics of CSAs

A few of the operating characteristics considered in the design of CSA microcantilevers include
sensitivity,
selectivity,
response time,
size, and
power consumption.

Cantilever-based CSAs have proven to be highly sensitive, highly selective, and to have fast response

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times. Because each cantilever in an array can be coated with a different probe material, a single
cantilever array can be designed to detect a large number of different analytes. It can also be
designed to have redundancy (nominally identical sensors) in order to reduce false positives (greater
accuracy) and yield a better response. Such an array can analyze a broad spectrum of materials
within a single complex mixture. For example, rather than have to take several vials of bloods to test
for different analytes using various test processes, technicians could place a drop of blood on a CSA
and it could test for all of the different analytes simultaneously.

Mass Sensitivity

Cantilever transducers have an inherently high mass sensitivity due to the small mass of the
cantilever itself. The physical properties of the cantilever (width, thickness, length and material) are
used to further enhance its sensitivity to minute
changes in mass. For example, the physical
geometry of the cantilever affects its resonant
frequency. A long cantilever will have a lower
resonant frequency than a shorter cantilever of
the same material, thickness and width. A
thicker cantilever is inherently stiffer, yielding
a higher frequency. Therefore, the CSA
designer must know what detection electronics
are best suited for the operational frequencies
and match the cantilever design to the
electronics.


Cantilever length - short vs. long

Response Time

The response time for a microcantilever is the time it takes for the cantilever to respond to the target
material on its surface and produce a change in the output. The response time is affected by several
parameters, three of which are
the concentration of the target material in the environment,
the probe material itself, and
the method used to interpret the change in a mechanical property.

For the best response time, the chemical reaction between the target material and the probe material
must be as fast as possible. The more time it takes for the adsorption to occur, the slower the
response time. Once the chemical reaction occurs, the change it creates in the frequency, resistance
or deflection must be sensed quickly in order to generate an immediate output. In a CSA this change
is measured by integrated circuits directly interfaced with the monitored characteristic of the
cantilever (i.e. the piezoresistance, resonant frequency, or angular deflection). This direct
measurement coupled with the time required for the chemical reaction to occur on the cantilever's
surface determine the sensor's response time.

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Non-Cantilever Based CSAs

The type of CSA discussed in this unit is a cantilever-based CSA that uses mass or stress sensitive
transducers. There are variations of CSAs that use other types of transducers that may be better
suited for a specific application and its requirements. Following is a short description of other types
of non-cantilever based CSAs.

Optical Sensor Array


Partial output from a Colorimetric Optical Array.

In optical sensor arrays the chemical reaction between the probe coating and the target analytes
affects an optical property of the transducer. This results in a change in the optical signal such as
color (wavelength) or light intensity.

The graphic shows a partial output from a colorimetric optical array. A colorimetric sensor arrays
act as an "optoelectronic nose" by using an array of multiple dyes whose color changes are based on
the full range of intermolecular interactions. The four volatile organic compounds in the graphic have
four different patterns as identified by the sensor array. This particular array can sense up to 15
analytes simultaneously in the same sample.

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Schottky Diode Array

In a Schottky Diode Sensor Array the target material
absorbs (diffuses) through the probe coating to a metal
layer. The metal layer serves as a gate for a diode. Any
change at the gate causes a change in the diode's electrical
characteristics.


Schottky Diode Sensor Array
[University of California, Santa Barbara, Department of
Chemical Engineering.]



Cell-based Sensor Array

The Cell-based Sensor Array uses biological cells as the transducers to detect the presence of specific
molecules (analytes) within the cells' environment. There are several types of molecular transducers
being developed and tested.

One type of molecular transducer uses cell amplification. When a cell interacts with the analytes a
chemical change occurs within the cell causing the production of many "so-called second messenger"
molecules. This is essentially a biological gain or cell signal amplification. A chemical change
within the cell or an electrical activity can be monitored to measure the amount of amplification. The
amount of amplification indicates the amount of analytes in the sample.
6


CSAs Working Together

With the variety of sensor arrays available, a system can be developed to mimic the human senses.
Cantilever-based arrays distinguish between different smells and tastes, optical arrays react to
different wavelengths and intensities (sight), and acoustic arrays detect a change in acoustic
properties as a result of interacting with the environment (hearing).

A CSA can be used in combination with other sensors or as a stand-alone device. Its versatility,
reliability, selectivity and design flexibility make it an ideal sensor system for a variety of
applications, many of which are still being realized.

Summary

A Chemical Sensor Array is an array of microtransducers and supporting integrated circuits. A CSA
is designed to detect and measure the amount or concentration of one or more substances contained
in a sample environment.

The cantilever-based CSA uses an array of microcantilevers to detect and measure specific materials
within a sample environment. The micron size of the cantilevers results in higher selectivity,

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improved sensitivity, faster response time and low construction costs. These characteristics make the
cantilever CSA a very popular sensor for a wide range of applications.

Food For Thought

What are some additional applications where CSA's could be used to detect a combination of gases,
scents or particles?

In the dynamic mode, which microcantilever would be more sensitive to mass loading one 100
microns in length or 60 microns in length? (Assume the thickness, width and materials are the same
for both cantilevers).

In many applications, dynamic mode or static mode CSAs could be used. Below is a CSA used to
detect a specific virus in the bloodstream. Based on your knowledge of the microcantilever modes of
operation, which mode dynamic or static do you think would be best for this application and
why?


Nanocantilevers coated with antibodies* (blue-green) that
capture viruses (red spheres). As the cantilevers identify and
capture more virus molecules, one or more of the mechanical
or electrical characteristics of the cantilevers can change and
be detected by an electronic interface.
The size of the particle being detected and captured is one of
the factors affecting the size of the cantilever. [Image
generated and printed with permission by Seyet, LLC]

*Antibodies are proteins produced in the blood in response to
the presence of an antigen (e.g., virus, bacteria, toxin).

References

1
Building a hand-held lab-on-a-chip to simply blood tests. National Space Biomedical
Research Institute. April 11, 2006. http://www.nsbri.org/NewsPublicOut/Release.epl?r=89
2
"Cantilever array sensors". Lang, Hegner, and Gerber. Materials Today. 2005.
3
"Electronic Nose". Science @ NASA. October 6, 2007.
http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2004/06oct_enose.htm
4
"Instruments Electronic Nose". Advanced Environmental Monitoring and Control. NASA.
http://aemc.jpl.nasa.gov/instruments/enose.cfm
5
"Gene chip". Genetics Encyclopedia. DNA microarrays. Answers.com.
6
"Sensors: Engineering structures and materials from Micro to Nano". Stetter, Hesketh and
Hunter. The Electrochemical Society Interface. Spring 2006.
7
"BioMedical Applications of MEMS". Jack W. Judy. University of California. Los Angeles.
8
"Cantilever Array for Proteomic and Genomic Applications". Gerber, Hegner and Lang. Institute
of Physics. University of Basel. Switzerland. (Swiss Nanoscience Institute).
9
"CMOS MEMS Oscillator for Chemical Gas Detection". Bedair. Carnegie Mellon University.
2004.

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App_CantiL_PK12_PG_081011 Chemical Sensor Arrays
10
"Gradient residual stress induced elastic deformation of multilayer MEMS structures". Huany,
Zhang. Sensors and Actuators. 2006
11
"Microcantilever Transducers: A New Approach in Sensor Technology". Sepaniak, Datskos,
Lavrik, Tipple. Analytical Chemistry. 2002.
12
The MEMS Handbook, Edited by Mohamed Gad-el-Hak, CRC Press, 2002
13
Cantilever Arrays in as Nanomechanical Sensors. Cantilever Array Sensor Group. Swiss
Nanoscience Institute, Institute of Physics, University of Basel.

Glossary

Analytes: A substance or chemical constituent that is undergoing analysis or being measured.

Cantilever: A beam supported at one end and with the other end suspended freely outwards.

Chemical Sensor Array: An array of sensors that chemical reacts with a target material resulting in a
measurable change (i.e. resonant frequency or mass) with the sensor.

Chemisorption: The molecular bonding of gas to a solid.

MEMS: Micro-Electro Mechanical Systems microscopic devices such as sensors and actuators,
normally fabricated on silicon wafers.

Piezoresistive: The piezoresistive effect describes the changing electrical resistance of a material due
to applied mechanical stress.

Resonant frequency: The frequency at which a moving member or a circuit has a maximum output
for a given input.

Selectivity: The pumping speeds for specific gases. Pumps that are selective do not pump all gases
at the same rate.


Related SCME Units
MEMS Cantilever Applications Overview
How Does a Cantilever Work?
MEMS Cantilever Inquiry Activities I and II
MEMS Cantilever Activity: Resonant Frequency vs. Mass

Disclaimer

The information contained herein is considered to be true and accurate; however the Southwest
Center for Microsystems Education (SCME) makes no guarantees concerning the authenticity of any
statement. SCME accepts no liability for the content of this unit, or for the consequences of any
actions taken on the basis of the information provided.

Support for this work was provided by the National Science Foundation's Advanced Technological
Education (ATE) Program.





Southwest Center for Microsystems Education (SCME)
University of New Mexico


MEMS Applications Topic

Dynamic Cantilever Activity:
Resonant Frequency vs. Mass
Shareable Content Object (SCO)


This SCO is part of the Learning Module
MEMS Cantilevers



Target audiences: High School, Community College.





Support for this work was provided by the National Science Foundation's Advanced Technological Education
(ATE) Program through Grants #DUE 0830384,0402651, and 0902411.

Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors
and creators, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

Copyright 2009 - 2011 by the Southwest Center for Microsystems Education
and
The Regents of the University of New Mexico

Southwest Center for Microsystems Education (SCME)
800 Bradbury Drive SE, Suite 235
Albuquerque, NM 87106-4346
Phone: 505-272-7150
Website: www.scme-nm.org email contact: mpleil@unm.edu

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App_CantiL_AC11_PG_100510 Dynamic Cantilever Activity

Dynamic Cantilever Activity:
Resonant Frequency vs. Mass

Participant Guide


Description and Estimated Time to Complete

This activity provides a procedure that will allow you to further explore the motion of a cantilever under
a varying mass and to determine the relationship that expresses the resonance frequency of a cantilever
as a function of mass. This activity simulates the dynamic mode of operation for microcantilevers used
in MEMS sensors.

Estimated Time to Complete
Allow approximately 1.5 hours to complete this activity in class. The report will take an additional 2-6
hours depending on your experience and existing knowledge of cantilever operation.

Introduction

In many MEMS applications, a change in the resonant frequency of a cantilever structure indicates a
change in the cantilever system mass. The system includes the cantilever structure itself plus any mass
added to the structure. For example, in a chemical sensor array (CSA) that contains an array of
microcantilevers, target molecules bind with the surface probe molecules of the oscillating cantilevers.
This causes a change in the mass of each cantilever system and in turn, their natural frequency of
oscillation. These frequencies are monitored and any changes are converted to electrical outputs which
represent the amount of accumulated mass on the cantilevers' surfaces.

In this activity, you will simulate a single cantilever of a CSA by adding mass and observing the change
in the systems natural frequency.

Activity Objectives and Outcomes

Activity Objectives
Determine the relationship between the resonant frequency of a cantilever system to added mass.
Explain the similarities between the physical characteristics of the macrocantilever model and the
microcantilever-based chemical sensor array.

Activity Outcomes
Through experimentation, data collection and analysis, you will explore the relationship between mass
and its affect on the resonant frequency of a cantilever. At the end of this activity you should be able to
answer the following questions:
How is the natural resonant frequency of a mechanical system affected by the addition of mass?
How do you determine the frequency of a system from digital video data?
How do you determine if the Frequency vs. Mass Added relationship is linear or non-linear?


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App_CantiL_AC11_PG_100510 Dynamic Cantilever Activity


Attitude & Behavior

In this activity, consistency, repeatability, and attention to detail are needed to ensure the most accurate
and repeatable outcome.

Team

This activity should be performed in teams of 2 to 3 participants to ensure the best outcome. The
multiple tasks for some of the procedure steps require more than one set of eyes and one set of hands;
therefore each team should assign a specific task to each individual on the team. These tasks can be
rotated at various points in the activity so that all participants experience each part of the experiment.

Materials

Supplies provided in the SCME kit

Several sticks of different lengths, widths, thicknesses, and/or materials.
Clamps (Large enough to clamp the stick to a table)
Binder clips (unit masses do not need to weigh as they are all the same and considered unit
masses, analogous to individual molecules or particles adhering to a micro cantilever sensor).

Supplies provided by the instructor and/or participants
Digital Camera with video capability 30 frames/sec is best
Camera tripod
Computer with spreadsheet software, Apple QuickTime software, and the software needed to
transfer the video files from the camera.
A sturdy table to clamp the sticks (cantilevers) to.



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App_CantiL_AC11_PG_100510 Dynamic Cantilever Activity

Preparation/setup


Cantilever in front of white board with reference lines. This activity can be done with any type of
individual planks or sticks. The equations apply to any cantilever structure that has a rectangular cross
section of thickness, t, width, w and length, l.

This activity can be performed in any classroom with a sturdy flat table and a computer with the
required software (see materials). To make recording the data easier, place a background within the
field of view that can be used as a reference. Such a device could be a file cabinet, clock, set of window
panes, or white board with a few horizontal lines (see picture above). Points on the reference device
allow you to better identify the specific points of an oscillation within a video frame.

Before getting started, review the Documentation Supplement at the end of this activity.


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App_CantiL_AC11_PG_100510 Dynamic Cantilever Activity
Documentation

Write a formal lab report for this activity. Report should include the following components:
Title
Author(s)
Objectives / Abstract
Introduction (Background and Pre-Lab Questions)
Materials / Equipment
Setup Description (Sketch or pictures of the experimental setup)
Pre-Activity questions / answers
Procedure: Each procedure step with outcomes where applicable
Summary of observations and results
Video to support outcomes
Data, graphs, tables to support outcomes
Analysis / Discussion
Conclusions
Post-Activity questions / answers
References (when applicable)

A Formal Lab Report Sample is provided at the end of this activity.

Pre-Activity Questions

1. What is frequency?

2. What is the natural resonant frequency of a system?

3. What do you expect to happen to the natural frequency of the cantilever system as you add mass
to it? (Hint: Think of a child vs. an adult on a diving board)

4. Will the natural frequency of the cantilever oscillation increase or decrease with added mass?

5. With your digital camera set for video, how many frames per second does it run?



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App_CantiL_AC11_PG_100510 Dynamic Cantilever Activity

Procedure: Dynamic Cantilever - Resonant Frequency vs. Mass
The activity allows you to discover a functional relationship through experimentation, data collection and
analysis.

Description
This procedure will use cantilever sticks, clamp(s), binder clips, and a video camera to determine the
effect that mass has on the resonant frequency of a cantilever.

Use the Document Supplement and Lab Report sample provided at the end of this activity to help you
gather and analyze the outcomes of each step of this procedure.

1. Set up cantilever

Description Place a sturdy table in front of a background within the field of view that can be
used as a reference, something with a grid or lines. You can print out graph paper
of any specific grid spacing at Incompetech or create your own.

Using the clamp, secure one end of the cantilever stick to the table to make your
cantilever system. The length of the meter stick should extend in front of and
across your reference device. See figure below.










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App_CantiL_AC11_PG_100510 Dynamic Cantilever Activity
2. Set up camera

Description Secure the camera in a position that will allow it to record the movement of the
cantilever with the reference device as background. A tripod is extremely useful
for this task.

3. Record cantilever specifications

Description Record the cantilever's specifications:
Length between the clamp (fixed) and free end.
Thickness
Width
Type of material

4. System Calibration

Description Place the camera on the tripod.
Put a clock with a second hand in the field of view. (A digital clock that shows
seconds could also be used).
Record (video) the clock for 5 seconds.
Download the video from the camera to the computer.
View the video in a viewer (QuickTime, free viewer download) that allows you
to step through the video frame by frame.
Count the number of frames over a five-second interval, second hand iterations.
Start counting when the second hand just starts to move (or in the case of a
digital camera, as the second number display just starts to change to the next
second).


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App_CantiL_AC11_PG_100510 Dynamic Cantilever Activity
5. Create a data table

Description Create a table using a spreadsheet such as Microsoft Excel in which to record your
data. The table should be set up to record frequency as a function of mass added.
See example below for a camera having 30 frames per second.

Camera Frames/Second = 30 frames/second, length = 50cm, thickness =
3mm, width = 5cm, material: Sintra
# clips added # Oscillations # Frames Frequency = Osc/Sec = Hz
Example 5 38 6.33
0
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
Table 1: Frequency as a Function of Mass

6. Record cantilever oscillations with no mass

Description Ready the camera to record the first oscillation.
Start recording.
Set the cantilever in motion by pushing down (apply force) on the open end of
the cantilever, then releasing. This is similar to plucking a guitar string.
Record for several oscillations at least 5 complete oscillations should be
recorded.
NOTE: This step gives you the data needed to determine the natural resonant
frequency for the cantilever before mass is added.


7. Record cantilever oscillations with added mass

Description Add a binder clip to the free (suspended) end of the cantilever.
Start video record.
Set the cantilever in motion as before.
Stop the video
Transfer the video to the computer
Note: Add the masses at the end of the cantilever only, do not spread out the masses
over the entire length of the cantilever.


Southwest Center for Microsystems Education (SCME) Page 9 of 18
App_CantiL_AC11_PG_100510 Dynamic Cantilever Activity
8. Determine the natural resonant frequency of the cantilever system

Description View the video segments.
Note the number of complete oscillations, number of frames associated with
this number.
Calculate the frequency in Hz.

=
# (/)
(#)


NOTE: If you were unable to get consistent values, evaluate your setup and
procedure. Make any necessary adjustments and repeat steps 6 and 7.
9. Record your data

Description Record the raw data for each mass added. (Number of frames per oscillations you
can count the number of frames for several oscillations to get a more accurate
value).


10. Repeat steps 7 9

Description Repeat steps 7 9 for up to 10 binder clips or as many as you can put on the meter
stick. Attach all the clips as close as you can to the first one. (See picture below)




11. Plot your data

Description When all the data has been collected, plot a line graph that shows the frequency vs.
mass added to the cantilever. If you are using Excel, the Chart Wizard makes this
step easy. See the documentation supplement at the end of this unit for an example.



Southwest Center for Microsystems Education (SCME) Page 10 of 18
App_CantiL_AC11_PG_100510 Dynamic Cantilever Activity
12. Complete the documentation requirements

Description Write a formal lab report for this activity. Report should include the following:
Title
Author(s)
Objectives / Abstract
Introduction (Background and Pre-Lab Questions)
Materials / Equipment
Setup Description (Sketch or pictures of the experimental setup)
Pre-Activity questions / answers
Procedure: Each procedure step with outcomes where applicable
Summary of observations and results
Video to support outcomes
Data, graphs, tables to support outcomes
Analysis / Discussion
Conclusions
Post-Activity questions / answers
References (when applicable)

13. Answer all of the Post-Activity Questions and turn in with the report.


Activity Variations May be required by the instructor in addition to the Frequency Vs Mass
added component of this lab.

To further explore the effect that mass has on resonant frequency, you can change the specifications of the
cantilever. Repeat this activity for one or more of the following. However, change only ONE
specification for each activity.

Use a cantilever stick of a different material metal, wood, plastic. The kit comes with two different
materials.
Complete this activity with 2 or 3 different materials.
Discuss the effect that "cantilever material" has on this activity's outcomes.
Note: the material property call Youngs Modulus of Elasticity, E, determines the springiness of the
material. The spring constant, k, is determined by both E and the shape of the cantilever. The equations
listed here assumes a rectangular cross section of width, w, and thickness, t for a given length, l.

Frequency vs. length
Complete this activity with 5 to 10 different lengths of cantilevers.
Put the data in a table and graph accordingly.
Discuss the effect that "cantilever length" has on the natural frequency of the system.
How does this compare to the mathematical model? Can you plot the theory with the measured data
on the same graph?
Plot Frequency vs. Length for at least one cantilever.
As time permits, acquire data for a cantilever of different thickness, how does the curve change?
What about a cantilever of different widths? Materials?



Southwest Center for Microsystems Education (SCME) Page 11 of 18
App_CantiL_AC11_PG_100510 Dynamic Cantilever Activity
Frequency vs. Thickness
Glue two sticks together to double the thickness, or use a stick of double thickness and having the
same width and length. You only want to change one variable at a time. Changing thickness and
length or width at the same time will confound your results. Note: Doubling the thickness also
doubles the mass! What change in frequency do you expect to see as you double the thickness?
What about tripling the thickness? How does the frequency change?
Create a table and graph showing your results.
Discuss the effect that "cantilever thickness" has on the resonant natural frequency of the system.
How does this compare to theory (equation)? Try to plot the predicted results with the actual data.



Southwest Center for Microsystems Education (SCME) Page 12 of 18
App_CantiL_AC11_PG_100510 Dynamic Cantilever Activity
Post-Activity Questions

1. Does the graph of frequency vs. mass added represent a linear relationship (is it a straight or curved
line)? What do you predict from the equation?

2. Is the frequency decreasing or increasing with added mass? Why?

3. Based on the graph of your actual data, how would you state the relationship between frequency and
mass added? In other words, is it an inverse relationship? Inverse squared? Inverse square root?
Squared? Direct proportion?

4. Your frequency vs. mass added graph (number of clips) can be used to determine the mass of an
unknown sample. Say you add several coins to the end of the cantilever and determine the frequency
of the system. How would you determine the mass of the coins in clip units from the graph?

5. Study the MEMS Cantilever unit on Chemical Sensor Arrays (CSA) (if you havent already). Write a
short discussion on how this activity simulates a dynamic mode CSA. Discuss how you could "tune"
your sensor for a given situation. For example, if you wanted to make the cantilever work in a lower
frequency range, how would you change its design?

Ideas for discussion:
a. How could you tell how much additional mass has been added to the cantilever based on
the observed frequency shift? (Take a look at your curve. Imagine you are reading a shift
in the output of a CSA, how would you determine the amount of material adhered to the
cantilever?)
b. How would you adjust the cantilever length and/or thickness to make the resonance match
an off the shelf electronics package? This is critical in design since designing a new
electronics package in addition to a cantilever device becomes more costly.

6. What effect does the cantilever's material have on its frequency? (Prove your answer using the E
(Young's Modulus) for at least 3 different materials). Note: E is usually given in units of GPa, or
Giga Pascals this is a pressure and stress unit, force/area. Definition of a Pascal:
7.
1 =
1

2
= 1 /
2


For most materials, E is given in GPa or kN/mm
2

E = 9.6GPa for Sintra, a type of PVC Foam. This was determined assuming a 1.4g/cm
3
density,
3mm thickness, 50cm length, 5cm width and measuring a 2.5Hz resonant frequency for this
cantilever at this length.

a. What would happen to the frequency if the cantilever was made of Aluminum, having an
E=69GPa and density = 2.7/
3
?
b. What about steel which has an E = 200 GPa and density = 7.9/
3
?
c. And one of the stiffest materials, diamond, E=1220 GPa and density = 3.5/
3
?




Southwest Center for Microsystems Education (SCME) Page 13 of 18
App_CantiL_AC11_PG_100510 Dynamic Cantilever Activity

8. Based on the following equation, what variables affect a cantilever's frequency?
a. Does density?
b. Length?
c. Width?
d. Thickness?
e. Youngs Modulus of Elasticity?

0
= 2
0
=


where
=

4
3


Note: Omega () is in radians per second and frequency is in cycles or oscillations per second.
There are 2 radians in one cycle.


Summary

This activity simulates the output of a cantilever in a dynamic mode Chemical Sensor Array. The binder
clips represented unit masses such as molecules, viruses, DNA snippets, proteins, and antibodies that
attach to the surface of the cantilevers. As these molecules attach to each of the cantilevers' surfaces, the
cantilevers' effective mass changes resulting in a change in resonant frequency. The change in resonant
frequency indicates a change in the concentration of target material in the sample being evaluated or the
amount of time the cantilevers were exposed to the sample environment.







Southwest Center for Microsystems Education (SCME) Page 14 of 18
App_CantiL_AC11_PG_100510 Dynamic Cantilever Activity


Dynamic Cantilever Activity Documentation Supplement

As part of the Dynamic Cantilever Activity: Resonant Frequency Vs. Mass, this supplement will assist
you in
1) gathering the correct data for your laboratory report (documentation), and
2) clarifying what is to be included in your lab report (documentation template provided).
Before starting on this Lab, you should answer the Pre-Activity Questions.

To obtain accurate data, you will be acquiring data through the use of a video camera or a digital camera
with video capabilities. You will capture video for each experiment, and then review it frame by frame to
determine the resonant frequency of the dynamic cantilever system. It is highly recommended that you
go through the steps of data acquisition and analysis at least once before acquiring all the video and then
trying to analyze it.



Southwest Center for Microsystems Education (SCME) Page 15 of 18
App_CantiL_AC11_PG_100510 Dynamic Cantilever Activity


Follow the steps in the Procedure section of this activity.

To determine frequency, you need to combine the number of oscillations observed, the number of frames
counted for those number of oscillations and knowledge of the frame rate of your camera. The frame rate
can be easily found by capturing several seconds of a watch and counting the number of frames for a
given number of seconds, and then calculating frames/second.

Below are examples of chart and data tables that illustrate the outcomes of a similar experiment.

Experimental
Run Number:
2
Material: Wood
Length: 28in
Thickness: t
Width: w
Camera
Frames / Sec:
30


Wood Video
File
# Clips
Added
Number of
Oscillation
s
Numbe
r of
Frames
Wood
Frequency
(Hz)
1588 0 9 43 6.28
1598 2 8 62 3.87
1599 4 5 52 2.88
1600 6 5 59 2.54
1601 8 5 68 2.21
1602 10 5 75 2.00



0.00
1.00
2.00
3.00
4.00
5.00
6.00
7.00
0 2 4 6 8 10 12
F
r
e
q
u
e
n
c
y

(
H
z
)
Mass Units Added
Mass Added Vs. Frequency
Wood, 28in long

Southwest Center for Microsystems Education (SCME) Page 16 of 18
App_CantiL_AC11_PG_100510 Dynamic Cantilever Activity
Formal Lab Report Sample
Title
Authors
Grading Criteria: All sections in order, well-formatted, very readable. All grammar/spelling correct and very
well-written
Objectives or Abstract
Grading Criteria: Abstract contains reference to all major aspects of carrying out the experiment and
the results, well-written. Should not be more than 250 words.
Introduction (Background and Pre-Lab Questions)
Here you can include some of the background related to this experiment including theory and
equations.
Frequency is related to the spring constant of the system, k, and the systems mass:
= 2 =


Equation 1

The spring constant is determined by the material property, E, call the Bulk or Youngs Modulus,
combined with information on how the material is distributed. In this case, the material is uniformly
distributed in a rectangular cross section having thickness, t, width, w, and length, l.
=

3

4
3

Equation 2
Grading Criteria: Introduction complete and well-written; provides all necessary background
principles for the experiment
Materials
Setup Description
Photographs of the setup can be used. Use a photo editor crop and to add labels if needed. It is good
practice to include captions.
Procedure
Step by step instructions on how the experiment was done.
Grading Criteria: Well-written in paragraph format, all experimental details are covered
Observations
Observations made during the experiment.

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App_CantiL_AC11_PG_100510 Dynamic Cantilever Activity
Data Tables, Graphs
Collection of tables and graphs. Label all tables and make sure the reader knows what each represents.
Graph axes must be labeled clearly, units included and graphs containing multiple data sets must
include clear legends. Graphs should have captions summarizing what is being shown. Graphs and
Tables need to have Figure and Table numbers so that the author(s) can reference the graphs in the
text.
Grading Criteria: All figures, graphs, tables are correctly drawn, are numbered and contain
titles/captions.
Analysis/Discussion
This is where the author(s) summarize the graphs and tables in text. From figures xx and yy we see
that as the cantilever has mass added to it, the resonance frequency of the system decreases in a non-
linear manner as is expected from Equation 1 above.
Grading Criteria: All important trends and data comparisons have been interpreted correctly and
discussed, good understanding of results is conveyed
Conclusion
Grading Criteria: All important conclusions have been clearly made, student shows good
understanding
References (Optional)

Appendices (Optional)


















Support for this work was provided by the National Science Foundation's Advanced Technological Education
(ATE) Program.


Southwest Center for Microsystems Education (SCME) Page 18 of 18
App_CantiL_AC11_PG_100510 Dynamic Cantilever Activity





Southwest Center for Microsystems Education (SCME)
University of New Mexico


MEMS Fabrication Topic

MEMS Cantilevers Terminology and
Research Activity
Shareable Content Object (SCO)


This SCO is part of the Learning Module
MEMS Cantilevers



Target audiences: High School, Community College.





Support for this work was provided by the National Science Foundation's Advanced Technological Education
(ATE) Program through Grant #DUE 0902411.

Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors
and creators, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

Copyright 2010-2011 by the Southwest Center for Microsystems Education
and
The Regents of the University of New Mexico

Southwest Center for Microsystems Education (SCME)
800 Bradbury Drive SE, Suite 235
Albuquerque, NM 87106-4346
Phone: 505-272-7150
Website: www.scme-nm.org email contact: mpleil@unm.edu
Southwest Center for Microsystems Education (SCME) Page 2 of 6
App_CantiL_AC15_PG_100410 MEMS Cantilevers Terminology and Research Activity
MEMS Cantilevers Terminology and Research
Activity

MEMS Cantilevers Learning Module
Participant Guide


Description and Estimated Time to Complete

In this activity you demonstrate your understanding of MEMS Cantilevers terminology and
how MEMS cantilevers work in a real application. This activity consists of two parts:
A crossword puzzle that tests your knowledge of the terminology and acronyms associated
with MEMS Cantilevers, and
Post-activity questions that ask you to demonstrate a better understanding of MEMS
cantilevers and their applications.

If you have not reviewed the reading materials in the MEMS Cantilevers Learning Module, you
should do so before completing this activity.

Estimated Time to Complete
Allow at least 1 to 1.5 hours to complete this activity.
Introduction

A cantilever is a type beam which is supported and constrained at only one end. Based on this
description the wings of most aircrafts, balconies of buildings and certain types bridges are
cantilevers. Free standing radio towers, anchored to the ground, suspended upwards without
cables are also cantilevers. Of course the most familiar cantilever is a diving board.

Cantilevers come in all sizes. The previous examples range in length from a few meters to
hundreds of meters. In contrast, MEMS cantilevers can be as thin as a few nanometers with
lengths that range from a few microns to several hundred microns. MEMS cantilevers are used
in micro transducers, sensors, switches, actuators, resonators, and probes. As transducers,
microcantilevers are operated in the static and the dynamic modes.

The microcantilever is one of the cornerstone components of microsystems. It is used in a wide
variety of applications including micro-chemical sensor arrays, atomic force microscopes,
microswitches, needles and atomic force probes.




Southwest Center for Microsystems Education (SCME) Page 3 of 6
App_CantiL_AC15_PG_100410 MEMS Cantilevers Terminology and Research Activity
Activity Objective

Activity Objectives
Identify the correct terms used for several definitions or statements related to MEMS
cantilevers.
Research and discuss the operation of a specific MEMS application that incorporates a
microcantilever or microcantilever array.

Resources
SCMEs MEMS Cantilevers Learning Module.


Documentation
1. Completed Crossword Puzzle
2. Questions and Answers to the Post-Activity Questions


Southwest Center for Microsystems Education (SCME) Page 4 of 6
App_CantiL_AC15_PG_100410 MEMS Cantilevers Terminology and Research Activity
Activity: MEMS Cantilevers Terminology

Procedure:
Complete the crossword puzzle using the clues on the following page.



1 2 3
4
5 6
7
8 9 10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
EclipseCrossword.com

Southwest Center for Microsystems Education (SCME) Page 5 of 6
App_CantiL_AC15_PG_100410 MEMS Cantilevers Terminology and Research Activity



Across

1. A system which transforms one form of energy (mechanical) to another (electrical) or vice
versa, is called a __________
4. A substance or chemical constituent that is undergoing analysis or being measured.
5. One one-thousands of a micron (micrometer) is a ______ meter
7. Abbreviation for the type of microscope which can measure down to the atomic forces.
8. Chemical Sensor Array - abbr.
11. The incorporation of a substance in one state into another of a different state (e.g., gas
molecules entering into a liquid, or liquid into a solid).
13. A cantilever based sensor system used in static mode measures the bend or flex by detecting
a change in the angular _________________ of a light beam, for example.
15. Microsystems applications in the biological and medical fields are also referred to as
_________
16. Cantilever are used in RF application. The "R" stands for _________
17. The frequency at which an object vibrates naturally is also called the _________ frequency.
It is the frequency at which a system oscillates when struck.
18. The type of actuation used in many MEMS devices, including the cantilever. Hint: Of or
related to electric charges at rest or static charges

Down

2. For an object that obeys Hooke's Law, the _____________ constant is defined as the force
needed to stretch a structure per unit extension (N/m)
3. Young's modulus of _____________
6. When stress is applied to these materials, the resistance changes. This is called a
____________ material or effect.
7. ___________ is the adhesion of molecules to a surface.
9. A cantilever can vibrate or just bend. When we measure the change in the frequency, we
are using the cantilever system in dynamic mode. When we measure the amount that a
cantilever bends, we are measuring the change in _________ mode.
10. Cantilever __________ coating on which the target molecules or particles stick.
12. A suspended beam fixed at one end.
14. A device or system which measures an environmental factor such as pressure, pH, amount
of a certain gas in the air, microphone, chem lab on a chip, etc.



Southwest Center for Microsystems Education (SCME) Page 6 of 6
App_CantiL_AC15_PG_100410 MEMS Cantilevers Terminology and Research Activity
Post-Activity Questions

1. List at least three MEMS applications of microcantilevers.
1. Briefly describe the two methods of transduction measurement used in static mode
microcantilevers (how is the bend measured?)
2. Research a specific MEMS that incorporates a microcantilever component which is used as a
transducer or sensor. Describe the application, function, and limitations of this device. Your
write-up should include, but is not limited to the following criteria.
a. Application What does it do, what is it use for, and who uses it?
b. Operation Physical description (i.e., size, components) and how does it work?
c. Limitations and Versatility What is its specificity (if any)? How versatile is it?
(i.e., Is it adaptable for fields other than the one described?) What are its limitations
(e.g., sample size, sample type)?
Summary

MEMS cantilevers are used for a wide variety of applications. The specific application defines
the best geometric shape of the cantilever, and the material from which it should be made.
These two parameters define the structures stiffness characteristics (spring constant). The
MEMS cantilever is a cornerstone component used in a wide variety of microsystems including
micro-chemical sensor arrays, atomic force microscopes, microswitches, and neural probes.

Several of these MEMS applications operate the cantilever in either a static or a dynamic mode
of operation.
The static mode is when the cantilever is in a static state (stationary). Any displacement of
the cantilever due to a load or intrinsic stress generated on or within the cantilever is
measured.
The dynamic mode is when the cantilever is externally actuated causing the cantilever to
oscillate at its natural resonant frequency. Any change in the load or mass of the cantilever
results in a change in this frequency. The change in frequency is measured and can be
related back to the change in load.
Several factors are considered when determining the mode of operation. Such factors can
include the operational environment (e.g., ambient pressure, liquid samples), cost, size, and
logic interface.




Support for this work was provided by the National Science Foundation's Advanced
Technological Education (ATE) Program.


Revision: 5/20/11 www.scme-nm.org
Southwest Center for Microsystems Education (SCME)
Learning Modules available for download @ scme-nm.org


MEMS Introductory Topics
MEMS History
MEMS: Making Micro Machines DVD and LM (Kit
available)
Units of Weights and Measures
A Comparison of Scale: Macro, Micro, and Nano
Introduction to Transducers, Sensors and Actuators
Wheatstone Bridge (Pressure Sensor Model Kit
available)

MEMS Applications
MEMS Applications Overview
Microcantilevers (Dynamic Cantilever Kit available)
Micropumps Overview

BioMEMS
BioMEMS Overview
BioMEMS Applications Overview
DNA Overview
DNA to Protein Overview
Cells The Building Blocks of Life
Biomolecular Applications for bioMEMS
BioMEMS Therapeutics Overview
BioMEMS Diagnostics Overview
Clinical Laboratory Techniques and MEMS
MEMS for Environmental and Bioterrorism
Applications
Regulations of bioMEMS
DNA Microarrays (GeneChip

Model Kit available)



MEMS Fabrication
Crystallography for Microsystems (Breaking Wafers
and Origami Crystal Kits available)
Oxidation Overview for Microsystems (Rainbow
Wafer Kit available)
Deposition Overview Microsystems
Photolithography Overview for Microsystems
Etch Overview for Microsystems (Rainbow Wafer
and Anisotropic Etch Kits available)
MEMS Micromachining Overview
LIGA Micromachining Simulation Activities (LIGA
Simulation Kit available)
Manufacturing Technology Training Center Pressure
Sensor Process (Three Activity Kits available)
MEMS Innovators Activity (Activity Kit available)

Safety
Hazardous Materials
Material Safety Data Sheets
Interpreting Chemical Labels / NFPA
Chemical Lab Safety
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)


Check our website regularly for the most recent
versions of our Learning Modules.


For more information about SCME
and its Learning Modules and kits,
visit our website
scme-nm.org or contact
Dr. Matthias Pleil at
mpleil@unm.edu