Microcantilever biosensors: probing biomolecular interactions at the nanoscale

Dongsheng Liu, Wenmiao Shu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Microcantilever based biosensors have attracted much attention as a label-free, real-time and highly sensitive approach to the detection of biomolecules. When specific biomolecular interactions occur between a receptor immobilized on one side of a cantilever and a target analyte in solution, a mechanical bending of the cantilever results due to a change in surface stress, thereby translating biochemical interactions into a concentration-dependent nanomechanical response of the microcantilevers. In this review, we present a general overview of the operation principles, fabrication and preparation of microcantilever biosensors and discuss their uses for a wide range of biosensing applications. The focus of the review is given to probing the biomolecular interactions at the solid-liquid interface by measuring the cantilever bending. In addition to the label-free detection of DNA, protein and cells, the emphasis is also made to discuss about the new development of microcantilever biosensors for label-free probing nanoscale conformational changes of DNA, protein and polymers, and real-time detection of nanomechanical forces from living cells. Finally, the outlook for future development work and challenges is also discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)477-485
Number of pages9
JournalCurrent Organic Chemistry
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • conformational changes
  • molecular interactions
  • microcantilever biosensors

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