Micro-machined cantilevers coated with self-assembled monolayers (SAM) of alkanethiols are being utilized as sensing elements for new generation of high-sensitivity chemical and biological sensors. Presence of chemical species is detected by resolving the surface stress change associated with absorption/adsorption of analyte molecules on the sensitized cantilever. Challenges to widespread use of micromechanical cantilever sensors are: susceptibility to vibrations, integration in a single device and understanding the mechanism governing surface stress generation. In the current work, surface stress development associated with formation of self-assembled-monolayers of alkanethiols was characterized using curvature interferometry. In order to understand the molecular mechanism underlying the surface stress generation, a multi-scale model is developed to predict the surface stress generated during absorption of the alkanethiols on a gold film.