Nano-Optomechanical Systems for Gas Chromatography

Nano Lett. 2016 Nov 9;16(11):6975-6981. doi: 10.1021/acs.nanolett.6b03066. Epub 2016 Oct 21.


Microgas chromatography (GC) is promising for portable chemical analysis. We demonstrate a nano-optomechanical system (NOMS) as an ultrasensitive mass detector in gas chromatography. Bare, native oxide, silicon surfaces are sensitive enough to monitor volatile organic compounds at ppm levels, while simultaneously demonstrating chemical selectivity. The NOMS is able to sense GC peaks from derivatized metabolites at physiological concentrations. This is an important milestone for small-molecule quantitation assays in next generation metabolite analyses for applications such as disease diagnosis and personalized medicine. The optical microring, which plays an important role in the nanomechanical signal transduction mechanism, can also be used as an analyte concentration sensor. Different adsorption kinetics regimes are realized at different temperatures allowing temporary condensation of the analyte onto the sensor surfaces. This effect amplifies the signal, resulting in a 1 ppb level limit of detection, without partition enhancement from absorbing media. This sensitivity bodes well for NOMS as universal, ultrasensitive detectors in micro-GC, breath analysis, and other chemical-sensing applications.

Keywords: NOMS; gas chromatography; gas sensing; metabolite detection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't