Daniel Lopez
Argonne National Laboratory

Embracing nonlinear dynamics in micro and nano-mechanical systems

The field of MEMS (Micro Electro Mechanical Systems) is now a well-established engineering domain with demonstrated impact in science and product development. Unfortunately, as the dimensions of the devices are reduced from the micro- to the nano-scale, the direct scaling of the MEMS fundamentals principles and fabrication processes cease to work. In nano-mechanical devices, thermal fluctuations and fluctuation-induced forces become relatively stronger causing significant changes in the mechanical properties of the structural materials, on their static and dynamic behavior, and on the manner in which they interact with the surrounding environment. Furthermore, when going from micro- to nano-electromechanical systems, the devices linear dynamic range can be reduced to the point where the amplitudes needed for lineal response are below the noise level and, as a consequence, operation in the nonlinear regime is unavoidable. This combination of nonlinear dynamics and high sensitivity to fluctuations has been seen as a deleterious combination for the advance of nano mechanical devices. Rather than continuing to struggle to avoid these phenomena, it is of interest to consider how micro/nanosystem might effectively capitalize on this nonlinear response.
In this talk, I will demonstrate that nonlinearity offers unique possibilities for the controlled response of MEMS devices and, thereby, a host of novel application opportunities. Examples of these opportunities include the development of compact frequency sources with low phase noise, the engineering of dissipation reservoirs to control energy decay processes, and the enhancement of synchronization range between microscopic and macroscopic oscillators.