Optimal in situ electromechanical sensing of molecular species.J Chem Phys 2020; 152(3):034109JC
We investigate protocols for optimal molecular detection with electromechanical nanoscale sensors under ambient conditions. Our models are representative of suspended graphene nanoribbons, which due to their piezoelectric and electronic properties provide responsive and versatile sensors. In particular, we analytically account for the corrections in the electronic transmission function and signal-to-noise ratio originating in environmental perturbations, such as thermal fluctuations and solvation effects. We also investigate the role of the sampling time in the current statistics. As a result, we formulate a protocol for optimal sensing based on the modulation of the Fermi level at a fixed bias and provide approximate forms for the current, linear susceptibility, and current fluctuations. We show how the algebraic tails in the thermally broadened transmission function affect the behavior of the signal-to-noise ratio and optimal sensing. These results provide further insights into the operation of graphene deflectometers and other techniques for electromechanical sensing.