We report the integration of a nanomechanical sensor consisting of 16 silicon microcantilevers with polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) microfluidics. For microcantilevers positioned near the bottom of a microfluidic flow channel, a transient differential analyte concentration for the top versus bottom surface of each microcantilever is created when an analyte-bearing fluid is introduced into the flow channel (which is initially filled with a non-analyte containing solution). We use this effect to characterize a bare (nonfunctionalized) microcantilever array in which the microcantilevers are simultaneously read out with our recently developed high sensitivity in-plane photonic transduction method. We first examine the case of non-specific binding of bovine serum albumin (BSA) to silicon. The average maximum transient microcantilever deflection in the array is −1.6 nm, which corresponds to a differential surface stress of only −0.23 mN m−1. This is in excellent agreement with the maximum differential surface stress calculated based on a modified rate equation in conjunction with finite element simulation. Following BSA adsorption, buffer solutions with different pH are introduced to further study microcantilever array transient response. Deflections of 20–100 nm are observed (2–14 mN m−1 differential surface stress). At a flow rate of 5 μL min−1, the average measured temporal width (FWHM) of the transient response is 5.3 s for BSA non-specific binding and 0.74 s for pH changes.
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