Nanocantilevers exhibit surprising behavior

Aug. 30, 2006 — U.S. scientists say the behavior of tiny structures called nanocantilevers can be crucial in designing sensors for detecting viruses and bacteria.

Purdue University researchers say the nanocantilevers — resembling tiny diving boards made of silicon — could be used in future detectors because they vibrate at different frequencies when contaminants stick to them, thereby revealing the presence of dangerous substances.

The researchers said they were surprised to learn cantilevers coated with antibodies to detect certain viruses attract different densities — or quantity of antibodies per area — depending on the size of the cantilever. The devices are immersed in a liquid containing the antibodies to allow the proteins to stick to the cantilever surface.

But instead of simply attracting more antibodies because they are longer, the longer cantilevers also contained a greater density of antibodies, which was very unexpected, said Rashid Bashir, a researcher at the Birck Nanotechnology Center and a Purdue professor of electrical, computer and biomedical engineering.

The findings are detailed in a research paper in the online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

© 2006, YellowBrix, Inc.


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