The difficulty in determining the mass of a sample increases as its size diminishes. At the nanoscale, there are no direct methods for resolving the mass of single molecules or nanoparticles and so more sophisticated approaches based on electromechanical phenomena are required. More importantly, one demands that such nanoelectromechanical techniques could provide not only information about the mass of the target molecules but also about their geometrical properties. In this sense, we report a theoretical study that illustrates in detail how graphene membranes can operate as nanoelectromechanical mass-sensor devices. Wide graphene sheets were exposed to different types and amounts of molecules and molecular dynamic simulations were employed to treat these doping processes statistically. We demonstrate that the mass variation effect and information about the graphene-molecule interactions can be inferred through dynamical response functions. Our results confirm the potential use of graphene as mass detector devices with remarkable precision in estimating variations in mass at molecular scale and other physical properties of the dopants.
(Upper panels) Visualization of the dynamic paths developed by four (a) coronene
and (b) biphenyl molecules deposited on the graphene membrane. (Lower panels) Planar view of the trajectory clouds drawn by the four (c) coronene and (d) biphenyl molecules on the membrane. δ evidences the more pronounced separation between biphenyl objects and the graphene.