The work reported in an April 26 advance online publication of Nature Nanotechnology ushers in a new generation of tools for ultra-sensitive measurements at the atomic level.
In nanoelectromechanical systems (NEMS), cantilevers are the most fundamental mechanical sensors. These tiny structures — fixed at one end and free at the other — act like nano-scale diving boards that "bend" when molecules "jump" on them and register a change that can be measured and calibrated. This paper demonstrates how NEMS can be improved by using integrated photonics to sense the cantilever motion.
"The system we developed is the most sensitive available that works at room temperature. Previously this level of sensitivity could only be achieved at extreme low temperatures" said senior author Hong Tang, assistant professor of electrical and mechanical engineering in the Yale School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.
Their system can detect as little deflection in the nano-cantilever sensors as 0.0001 Angstroms — one ten thousandth of the size of an atom
To detect this tiny motion, the Yale team devised a photonic structure to guide the light wave through a cantilever. After exiting from the free end of the cantilever, the light tunnels through a nanometer gap and is collected on chip. "Detecting the lightwave after this evanescent tunneling," says Tang, "gives the unprecedented sensitivity."
Tang's paper also details the construction of a sensor multiplex — a parallel array of 10 nano-cantilevers integrated on a single photonic wire. Each cantilever is a different length, like a key on a xylophone, so when one is displaced it registers its own distinctive "tone."
"A multiplex format lets us make more complex measurements of patterns simultaneously — like a tune with chords instead of single notes," said postdoctoral fellow Mo Li, the lead author of the paper.
At the heart of this breakthrough is the novel way Tang's group "wired" the sensors with light. Their technique is not limited by the bandwidth constraints of electrical methods or the diffraction limits of light sources.
"We don't need a laser to operate these devices," said Wolfram Pernice, a co-author of the paper. "Very cheap LEDs will suffice." Futhermore, the LED light sources — like the million LED pixels that make up a laptop computer screen — can be scaled in size to integrate into a nanophotonic-chip — an important feature for this application.
"This development reinforces the practicality of the new field of nanooptomechanics," says Tang, "and points to a future of compact, robust and scalable systems with high sensitivity that will find a wide range of future applications — from chemical and biological sensing to optical signal processing."
Funding for the research was from a Yale Institute for Nanoscience and Quantum Engineering seed grant, a National Science Foundation career award, and the Alexander-von-Humboldt postdoctoral fellowship programs.Citation: Nature Nanotechnology: Advance Online Publication April 26, 2009
Janet Rettig Emanuel | EurekAlert!
Further reports about: > Applied Sciences > Applied and Environmental Microbiology > Ferchau Engineering > LED > NEMS > Nano-mechanical sensors > Nanoscience > Nanotechnology > Nature Immunology > Photonics > Quantum > Science TV > atomic level > construction of a sensor multiplex > electric transducers > light source > lightwave > nano-cantilever sensors > nanoelectromechanical systems > single electron spins > single molecules > ultra-sensitive measurements
Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves
24.10.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Struktur und Dynamik der Materie
Move over, lasers: Scientists can now create holograms from neutrons, too
21.10.2016 | National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion
Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...
COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.
In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
24.10.2016 | Earth Sciences
24.10.2016 | Life Sciences
24.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy