Double side nanostructuring of microcantilever sensors with TiO2-NTs as a route to enhance their sensitivity
We reported a new strategy to enhance the sensing performances of a commercial microcantilever with optical readout in dynamic mode for the vapor detection of organophosphorus compounds (OPs). In order to increase significantly the surface area accessible to the molecules in the vapor phase, we nanostructured both sides of the microcantilever with ordered, open and vertically oriented amorphous titanium dioxide nanotubes (TiO2-NTs) in one step by an anodization method. However, due to the aggressive conditions of anodization synthesis it remains a real challenge to nanostructure both sides of the microcantilever. Consequently, we developed and optimized a protocol of synthesis to overcome these harsh conditions which can lead to the total destruction of the silicon microcantilever. Moreover, this protocol was also elaborated in order to maintain a good reflection of the laser beam on one side of the microcantilever towards the position sensitive photodiode and limit the light diffusion by the NTs film. The results related to the detection of dimethyl methylphosphonate (DMMP) showed that TiO2 and the nanostructuring on both sides of the microcantilever with NTs indeed improved the response of the sensor to vapors compared to a microcantilever nanostructured on only one side. The dimensions and morphology of NTs guaranteed the access of molecules to the surface of NTs. This approach showed promising prospects to enhance the sensing performances of microcantilevers.