Versatile Mass And Rheological Sensing platform

Founding Body: European Union Horizon 2020 – Marie Skłodowska-Curie
Total grant: € 171.5k
Principal Investigator: João Mouro
Other participants: Bruno Tiribilli
Project duration: 2020-2022


Fluids play a key role in many sensing applications, being either the substance to be tested (e.g. blood or saliva) or the support environment used to keep the substance of interest in its physiological state (e. g. proteins, DNA or analytes in solution). Therefore, measuring the mass of analytes with extremely high – potentially single molecule – accuracy, or understanding the rheology of simple and complex fluids play a critical role in a wide variety of applications, from the food and process industry, to environmental monitoring, to healthcare, to microfluidics. MEMS-based sensors are often based on the interaction between the sensing probe and its surrounding medium. Commonly the mechanical device response is affected by changes in environmental properties, such as temperature, pressure, flow, density, viscosity or the presence of some analytes of interest.

The MARS project aims to develop a platform for mass sensing and non-Newtonian fluid characterisation at the microscale, while achieving a deeper and more fundamental understanding of the complete integrated system. This will allow measuring mass and rheological properties of Newtonian/non-Newtonian fluids in real-time, with unprecedented resolution and reliability, by using some unique degrees of flexibility in the dynamical response of a self-excited mechanical cantilever. This research addresses several of the main drawbacks of current techniques to measure mass or to characterise viscoelastic fluids and allows to test these properties at temporal and length scales that are currently not available via commercial technologies.

The success of the MARS project requires the integration of several different disciplines and benefits from the contribution of people with diverse backgrounds.

Nonlinear behaviour of self-excited microcantilevers in viscous fluids”,
J. Mouro, B. Tiribilli and P. Paoletti, Journ. Micromech. and Microeng., 27(9), 095008, 2017.
Measuring viscosity with nonlinear self-excited microcantilevers”,
J. Mouro, B. Tiribilli and P. Paoletti, Appl. Phys. Lett, 111(14), 144101, 2017.
A versatile mass-sensing platform with tunable nonlinear self-excited microcantilevers
J. Mouro, B. Tiribilli and P. Paoletti, IEEE Transactions on Nanotech., 17(4), 751-762, 2018.