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Nanophotonic Nanomechanical Mass Spectrometry for Biology and Health

Final Report Summary - ENLIGHTENED (Nanophotonic Nanomechanical Mass Spectrometry for Biology and Health)

The Enlightened project demonstrated a new system architecture to perform mass spectrometry analysis of biological (as well as synthetic) species. These species are in a mass range which is today inaccessible to commercial instruments. It is based on nebulizing the species in solution, aerodynamic focusing and nanoresonator mass sensing. It has proven to be 10000 to 100000 more efficient than previous systems, and we performed the analysis of a bacteriophage virus above 100MDa, the highest molecular mass ever analysed to date by mass spectrometry.
Another outcome of the project consists in the study of the limiting source of noise in the frequency stability of nanoresonators. The project showed that this source of noise was commonly ignored by the research community, while it is most likely ubiquitous in many devices and degrades resonant sensors resolution by two to three orders of magnitude compared to theoretical limits.
Lastly, Enlightened developed the first Very Large Scale Integration technology for optomechanics, on 200mm silicon wafers, merging M/NEMS and silicon photonics processes. This technology proved state of the art performance for sensing, and we performed the first demonstration of mass spectrometry with optomechanical resonators. This demonstration showed an order of magnitude improvement in analysis time compared to electrical sensors.