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We report the detection of 10–30 parts-per-trillion levels of pentaerythritol tetranitrate and hexahydro-1,3,5-triazine within 20 s of exposure to a silicon microcantilever with its gold surface modified with a self-assembled monolayer of 4-mercaptobenzoic acid. These measurements correspond to a limit of detection of a few fg. © 2003 American Institute of Physics.