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Journal of Sensors
Volume 2009 (2009), Article ID 824947, 17 pages
Review Article

Quartz Crystal Microbalance as a Sensor to Characterize Macromolecular Assembly Dynamics

1Department of Chemical Engineering, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA
2Division of Gastroenterology, School of Medicine, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305, USA

Received 22 December 2008; Accepted 10 April 2009

Academic Editor: Michele Penza

Copyright © 2009 K. Kanazawa and Nam-Joon Cho. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The quartz crystal microbalance sensor has a resonant frequency 𝑓 and a quality factor 𝑄 which can be used to probe the properties of nanometer thick film loads. A recent review by Arnau (2008) has discussed many of the considerations necessary to accurately probe for these properties. To avoid needless duplication but to still provide an adequate background for the new user, we briefly outline the basic measurement methodologies and analytical techniques that were covered in the review. Details will be provided on some specific perspectives of the authors. For example, the special precautions necessary when dealing with soft films (polymeric and biological) under liquid are overviewed. To illustrate applications of the QCM technique, simple bilayer and vesicle behaviors are discussed, along with the structural transformation resulting from protein adsorption onto an intact vesicle adlayer. The amphipathic 𝛼 -helical (AH) peptide interaction is given as a particular example. Lastly, we summarize a top-down approach to functionalize a surface with a cell membrane and to study its interaction with proteins.