World’s Most Sensitive Nanomechanical Sensor Revealed (via redOrbit)
A team of physicists in Barcelona, Spain have for the first time fabricated and tested the world’s most sensitive Nanomechanical sensor, capable of detecting changes in mass of 1.7 yoctograms — roughly the mass of a single proton.
Team leader Professor Adrian Bachtold, of Catalan Institute of Technology’s Quantum NanoElectronics Group, and colleagues used the sensor, which is similar to a guitar string vibrating at very high frequencies (2 GHz), to compare the resonating frequency of the nanotube before and after additional mass was bound to its surface. Using this technique allowed the team to quantify the added mass.
Weighing single protons is no simple task. A scale must be accurate enough to measure a yoctogram, which is just one septillionth (0.000000000000000000000001) of a gram. Until now, the smallest mass measured was 100 yoctograms, or about a tenth of a zeptogram.