A microcantilever potentiometric sensor utilized for detecting and measuring physical and chemical parameters in a sample of media is described. The microcantilevered spring element includes at least one chemical coating on a coated region, that accumulates a surface charge in response to hydrogen ions, redox potential, or ion concentrations in a sample of the media being monitored. The accumulation of surface charge on one surface of the microcantilever, with a differing surface charge on an opposing surface, creates a mechanical stress and a deflection of the spring element. One of a multitude of deflection detection methods may include the use of a laser light source focused on the microcantilever, with a photo-sensitive detector receiving reflected laser impulses. The microcantilevered spring element is approximately 1 to 100 .mu.m long, approximately 1 to 50 .mu.m wide, and approximately 0.3 to 3.0 .mu.m thick. An accuracy of detection of deflections of the cantilever is provided in the range of 0.01 nanometers of deflection. The microcantilever apparatus and a method of detection of parameters require only microliters of a sample to be placed on, or near the spring element surface. The method is extremely sensitive to the detection of the parameters to be measured.
STATEMENT AS TO RIGHTS TO INVENTIONS MADE UNDER FEDERALLY-SPONSORED RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
The United States Government has certain rights in this invention pursuant to contracts numbers DE-AC05-96OR22464 and DE-AC05-84OR21400, between the U.S. Department of Energy and Lockheed Martin Energy Research Corporation.