Detection of small particules in the environment with nanomechanical resonators

Published : 15 July 2019

Today, there are solutions for detecting and quantifying PM10 and PM2.5 type particles (10 and 2.5µm diameter); their reliability depends essentially on their cost. These solutions are essentially optical, and they must be improved for particles down to a micron. For even smaller particles that are even more dangerous to health, there does not seem to be an obvious solution today. Nanomechanical resonators perform very well in these size / mass ranges, as demonstrated by our recent results obtained with our system for biological objects in liquid, recently published by the journal Science ( 362/6417/918). These nanoresonators therefore appear as a promising technology for the detection of PM especially for certain applications of air quality control in real time.

It will therefore be necessary to study the possibility of detecting particles in the air, in particular those which are hardly detectable today (PM <0.5). We will rely very largely on the systems developed for the detection of biological particles in liquid medium. It will be a question of taking advantage of this know-how and of adapting the system architectures, but also the nanomechanical resonators themselves for the detection of particles in aerosol. We will target representative nanoparticles, organic, pathogenic or non-pathogenic. In terms of resonators, we will also take advantage of current fabrications, with specific designs (electrical or optomechanical) for this application. We will particularly study the possibility of preventing fouling problems. The candidate will be fully integrated into the team around mass detection with nanoresonators.

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