Titular Professor of Physics
University of Basel, Department of Physics
Swiss Nanoscience Institute
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Personal page: https://cantileversensors.unibas.ch/ChGerber/
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Christoph Gerber is a titular professor in Physics at the University of Basel and Research Staff Member emeritus in Nanoscale Science at IBM Rüschlikon. He has made major contributions to Scanning Tunneling Microscopy and is co-inventor of the Atomic Force Microscope), for which he was awarded in 2016 the Kavli Prize in Nanoscience. His recent work is focused on biochemical cantilever array sensors based on AFM technology.
In recent years, mechanics has experienced a revival, as microfabrication technologies and nanotechnology are applied to produce tiny structures. The development of ultraprecise position sensing started three decades ago with atomic force microscopy. The high force sensitivity can not only be used for imaging, but also allows measuring surface forces during molecule adsorption processes on the cantilever surface, thus enabling cantilevers as chemical sensors.
Due to their small size, cantilevers allow fast and reliable detection of small concentrations of molecules in air and solution. Beyond artificial nose and label-free biosensing applications, cantilevers have also been employed to measure physical properties of tiny amounts of materials in miniaturized versions of conventional standard techniques such as calorimetry, thermogravimetry, weighing, photothermal spectroscopy and monitoring of chemical reactions.
Currently the research focus has been extended to medical applications and cantilever-array based devices have entered the clinics for pilot studies on patients suffering from melanoma or breast cancer. In proteomics or genomics, ultrasensitive cantilever array sensors with label-free detection and single base sensitivity allow simultaneous detection of multiple analytes solving the inherent problem of thermal drifts of single cantilever based devices by differential measurements.