We report on a pH sensor with ultrahigh sensitivity based on a microcantilever structure with a lithographically-defined crosslinked copolymeric hydrogel. Silicon-on-insulator wafers were used to fabricate cantilevers on which a polymer consisting of poly(methacrylic acid) (PMAA) with poly(ethylene glycol) dimethacrylate was patterned using free-radical UV polymerization. As the pH around the cantilever was increased above the pK a of PMAA, the polymer network expanded and resulted in a reversible change in surface stress causing the microcantilever to bend. Excellent mechanical amplification of polymer swelling as a function of pH change within the dynamic range was obtained, with a maximum deflection sensitivity of 1nm/5×10-5ΔpH.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)