Published. 2021, 10(9)
Micromanipulation and biological, material science, and medical applications often require to control or measure the forces asserted on small objects. Here, we demonstrate for the first time the microprinting of a novel fiber-tip-polymer clamped-beam probe micro-force sensor for the examination of biological samples. The proposed sensor consists of two bases, a clamped beam, and a force-sensing probe, which were developed using a femtosecond-laser-induced two-photon polymerization (TPP) technique. Based on the finite element method (FEM), the static performance of the structure was simulated to provide the basis for the structural design. A miniature all-fiber micro-force sensor of this type exhibited an ultrahigh force sensitivity of 1.51 nm μN−1, a detection limit of 54.9 nN, and an unambiguous sensor measurement range of ~2.9 mN. The Young's modulus of polydimethylsiloxane, a butterfly feeler, and human hair were successfully measured with the proposed sensor. To the best of our knowledge, this fiber sensor has the smallest force-detection limit in direct contact mode reported to date, comparable to that of an atomic force microscope (AFM). This approach opens new avenues towards the realization of small-footprint AFMs that could be easily adapted for use in outside specialized laboratories. As such, we believe that this device will be beneficial for high-precision biomedical and material science examination, and the proposed fabrication method provides a new route for the next generation of research on complex fiber-integrated polymer devices.