Airborne nanoparticles can cause severe harm when inhaled. Therefore, small and cheap portable airborne nanoparticle monitors are highly demanded by authorities and the nanoparticle producing industry. We propose to use nanomechanical resonators to build the next generation cheap and portable airborne nanoparticle sensors. Recently, nanomechanical mass spectrometry was established. One of the biggest challenges of nanomechanical sensors is the low efficiency of diffusion-based sampling. We developed an inertial-based sampling method that enables the efficient sampling of airborne nanoparticles on a nanomechanical sensor operating directly in air. We measured a sampling rate of over 1000 particles per second, for 28 nm silica nanoparticles with a concentration of 380000 #/cm3, collected on a 500 nm wide nanomechanical string resonator. We show that it is possible to reach a saturated sampling regime in which 100% of all nanoparticles are captured that are owing in the projection of the nanostring. We further show that it is possible to detect single airborne nanoparticles by detecting 50 nm Au particles with a 250 nm wide string resonator. Our resonators are currently operating in the first bending mode. Mass spectrometry of airborne nanoparticles requires the simultaneous operation in the first and second mode, which can be implemented in the transduction scheme of the resonator. The presented results lay the cornerstone for the realization of a portable airborne nanoparticle mass spectrometer.
Proceedings of Spie, 2013
Main Research Area:
Micro- and Nanotechnology Sensors, Systems, and Applications V, 2013
SPIE - International Society for Optical Engineering