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In this letter, we present the microfabrication and application of arrays of silicon cantilever beams as microresonator sensors with nanoscale thickness to detect the mass of individual virus particles. The dimensions of the fabricated cantilever beams were in the range of 4–5 μm in length, 1–2 μm in width and 20–30 nm in thickness. The virus particles we used in the study were vaccinia virus, which is a member of the Poxviridae family and forms the basis of the smallpox vaccine. The frequency spectra of the cantilever beams, due to thermal and ambient noise, were measured using a laser Doppler vibrometer under ambient conditions. The change in resonant frequency as a function of the virus particle mass binding on the cantilever beam surface forms the basis of the detection scheme. We have demonstrated the detection of a single vaccinia virus particle with an average mass of 9.5 fg. These devices can be very useful as components of biosensors for the detection of airborne virus particles. © 2004 American Institute of Physics.