Annual Report FY 2004 - Research at Cornell

05. Beyond Nano

Harold G. Craighead, Applied and Engineering Physics, and his research group, pushed the scale of their work beyond nano, picogram, and femtogram to attogram—the scale of viruses—using nanoelectromechanical systems (NEMS) devices. The researchers used NEMS oscillating cantilevers to detect masses as small as six attograms by noting the change an added mass produces in the frequency vibration. The cantilevers, made from silicon and silicon nitrate are set into motion by an applied electric field or by hitting them with a laser. The frequency of vibration can be measured by shining a laser light on the device and observing changing reflection of light. The technology could be used to detect and identify microorganisms and biological molecules.

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