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Microcantilevers Bend to the Pressure of Clustered Redox Centers

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journal contribution
posted on 28.01.2014, 00:00 by Eric R. Dionne, Violeta Toader, Antonella Badia
The redox-activated deflection of microcantilevers has attracted interest for nanoactuation and chemical sensing. Microcantilever sensors are devices that transduce (bio)­chemical reactions into a quantifiable nanomechanical motion via surface stress changes. Despite promising applications in analytical science, poor signal-to-noise ratios and a limited understanding of the molecular origins of the surface stress changes that cause the observed deflections remain obstacles to cantilever-based sensing becoming an established (bio)­detection method, such as surface plasmon resonance and electrochemistry. We use phase-separated, binary self-assembled monolayers (SAMs) of ferrocenyldodecanethiolate and n-undecanethiolate as a model system to study the effect of the steric crowding of the redox centers on the surface stress change and cantilever deflection produced by the electrochemical oxidation of the surface-tethered ferrocene to ferrocenium. We correlate the measured surface stress change to the fraction of the clustered ferrocenyldodecanethiolate phase in the binary SAMs. The pairing of anions with the sterically crowded clustered ferroceniums induces a collective molecular reorientation which drives the cantilever deflection. The results provide fundamental insights into the response mechanism of microcantilever-based actuating and sensing technologies.