We present a method to detect the non-uniform elastic property changes of sensor coatings on microcantilever arrays due to radiation, analyte binding or adsorption. The method uses measurements of the resonance frequencies of higher order flexural modes to identify with high sensitivity the location and magnitude of non-uniform elasticity changes in a microcantilever coating. We validate theoretical predictions and demonstrate the method by monitoring the time evolution of resonance frequencies of different flexural modes of microcantilevers functionalized with a small drop of a photosensitive polymer as it is exposed to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. The method is particularly well-suited for measuring quantitatively the time varying elastic properties of thin films or biological materials attached to microcantilevers.

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