The objective of the proposed research is to develop micromachined transducers for improved atomic force microscopy (AFM) based biomolecular mechanics measurements. The research focus will be on the design and microfabrication of these transducers that allow ultra-stable measurements for applications in life sciences. A major research effort will be on performing long-time scale biological experiments using these transducers. Successful implementation of ultra-stable molecular force spectroscopy with micromachined transducers (UTMOST) will facilitate biomolecular measurements with unprecedented stability and accuracy. The proposed approach is to design transducers that thermo-mechanically match the AFM cantilevers. The transducer comprises a micro-stage anchored to its substrate using bimaterial and isolation legs. Bimaterial legs are made of two different materials with different values of coefficient of thermal expansion (CTE). Due to CTE mismatch, these legs deflect under thermal fluctuations. It is guaranteed by design that the micro-stage deflects identically with the AFM cantilever. This provides constant tip-to-transducer distance at all times so that the force applied on the biomolecules stays the same. Originality of the proposed research is to utilize microsystems technology as an integral component of a novel AFM-based assay for biomolecular applications. As such, novel concepts and methods introduced with UTMOST will advance both engineering and life sciences. Positioned between microsystems technology and single-molecular studies, the proposed research will contribute to European technological and scientific excellence. This proposal describes the methodology for the development of UTMOST devices in depth. The details of the biomolecular experiments planned to demonstrate device operation are also explained in this research proposal.
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