We describe a sensitive torque detector, based on a silicon single-crystal double-paddle oscillator (DPO). The high Q-factor (105 at room temperature and in vacuum) makes DPOs well suited for the detection of weak forces. The limiting sensitivity of a sensor is given by Brownian (thermal) noise if all external disturbances are eliminated. In this case, the minimum detectable force can be decreased by measuring over a time significantly longer than the oscillator’s relaxation time. We demonstrate operation in this regime, with integration times of up to 14 h. A resulting torque sensitivity of 2×1018Nm is reached. Tests are performed to show that the sensor is only affected by thermal noise. The present sensor is well suited for measurements of extremely weak forces, e.g., of gravitational attraction between laboratory masses.

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