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Problem Addressed

The fundamental task in chemical sensing and detection is to transduce the presence of the chemical of interest at some predetermined concentration into a useful signal. In the vast majority of cases, the ideal sensor output takes the form of an electrical signal such as a voltage or current. Previous attempts have been made at using chemiresistive polymers -- which exhibit a change in conductivity in response to chemical binding -- directly in chemical micro-sensors by directly measuring the conductivity change. However, this approach suffers from poor analyte specificity, produces weak signal, and continuously draws power. One strategy that has been attempted to mitigate the signal-to-noise ratio limitation is to coat micro-cantilevers with chemi-resistive polymers that exhibit mechanical strain in response to chemical binding and measuring the resulting deflection of the cantilever using optical, piezoelectric, or other active measurement schemes. These analog measurement modalities are susceptible to ambient interference and remain dependent on power-consuming instrumentation. This invention provides a low-power electro-mechanical chemical micro-sensor that addresses these limitations.