Ultrafine Aerosol Particle Sizer Based on Piezoresistive Microcantilever Resonators with Integrated Air-Flow Channel
To monitor airborne nano-sized particles (NPs), a single-chip differential mobility particle sizer (DMPS) based on resonant micro cantilevers in defined micro-fluidic channels (µFCs) is introduced. A size bin of the positive-charged fraction of particles herein is separated from the air stream by aligning their trajectories onto the cantilever under the action of a perpendicular electrostatic field of variable strength. We use previously described µFCs and piezoresistive micro cantilevers (PMCs) of 16 ng mass fabricated using micro electro mechanical system (MEMS) technology, which offer a limit of detection of captured particle mass of 0.26 pg and a minimum detectable particulate mass concentration in air of 0.75 µg/m3. Mobility sizing in 4 bins of a nebulized carbon aerosol NPs is demonstrated based on finite element modelling (FEM) combined with a-priori knowledge of particle charge state. Good agreement of better than 14% of mass concentration is observed in a chamber test for the novel MEMS-DMPS vs. a simultaneously operated standard fast mobility particle sizer (FMPS) as reference instrument. Refreshing of polluted cantilevers is feasible without de-mounting the sensor chip from its package by multiply purging them alternately in acetone steam and clean air.