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Standoff Mechanical Resonance Spectroscopy Based on Infrared-Sensitive Hydrogel Microcantilevers

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journal contribution
posted on 06.09.2016, 00:00 by Inseok Chae, M. Faheem Khan, Jungki Song, Taewook Kang, Jungchul Lee, Thomas Thundat
This paper reports a highly sensitive and selective remote chemical sensing platform for surface-adsorbed trace chemicals by using infrared (IR)-sensitive hydrogel microcantilevers. Poly­(ethylene glycol) diacrylate (PEG-DA) hydrogel microcantilevers are fabricated by ultraviolet (UV) curing of PEG-DA prepolymer introduced into a poly­(dimethylsiloxane) mold. The resonance frequency of a PEG-DA microcantilever exhibits high thermal sensitivity due to IR irradiation/absorption. When a tunable IR laser beam is reflected off a surface coated with target chemical onto a PEG-DA microcantilever, the resonance frequency of the cantilever shifts in proportion to the chemical nature of the target molecules. Dynamic responses of the PEG-DA microcantilever can be obtained in a range of IR wavelengths using a tunable quantum cascade laser that can form the basis for the standoff mechanical resonance spectroscopy (SMRS). Using this SMRS technique, we have selectively detected three compounds, dimethyl methyl phosphonate (DMMP), cyclotrimethylene trinitramine (RDX), and pentaerythritol tetranitrate (PETN), located 4 m away from the PEG-DA microcantilever detector. The experimentally measured limit of detection for PETN trace using the PEG-DA microcantilever was 40 ng/cm2. Overall, the PEG-DA microcantilever is a promising candidate for further exploration and optimization of standoff detection methods.

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