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Best load cell for testing small structures - what have you found?

For all of the small-scale mechanics testing to date, there seems to be a lack of load/force cells that combine a number of desirable features including vacuum compatibility, high resonant frequency, and sub-microNewton resolution. Besides on-chip MEMS measurements, do you know of any commercial products that work in these situations?


I also had searched that kind of load cell for my study, but I found no commercial candidate. Measuring load is mainly done by measuring strain (or displacement) of a structure with known stiffness. If we need sub-microNewton resolution, we may need a very compliant structure(e.g., cantilevers for Atomic Force Microscopy) and a highly-sensitive displacement sensor for measuring its deformation. The displacement sensor needs to be a non-contact type which applies no additional force to the structure(e.g., capacitive type sensor or optical sensor). For a high resonance frequency, the volume(or mass) of the compliant structure should be very small. If there's no commercial loadcell of a ultra-high resolution, we may need to make our own loadcell. A good candidate is a structure like AFM cantilever.

Some micro balances will satisfy the load resolution for your application, and very accurate and repeatable, but they are a little bulky. I'm not sure whether they are vacuum-compatible or not.

If you find any good one, please post its information here.

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