Nanomechanical sensors: analyzing effects of laser-nanowire interaction and electrodeposited clamps on resonance spectra




Weng, Fan

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This thesis presents work to help enable the transition of sensitive nanoscale instruments from research laboratory demonstration to societal use. It focuses on nanomechanical resonators made by field-directed assembly, with contributions to understanding effects of materials, clamp geometries and laser measurement of motion, towards their use as commercial scientific instruments. Nanomechanical resonators in their simplest form are cantilevered or doubly- clamped nanowires or nanotubes made to vibrate near one of their resonant frequencies. Their small mass and high frequency enable extraordinary mass sensitivity, as shown in published laboratory-scale demonstrations of their use for detection of a few molecules of prostate cancer biomarker and of their response to mass equal to that of a single proton. However such sensitive devices have been prohibitively expensive for societal use, since the fabrication process cost scales with number of devices and the chip area covered, when they are made using standard electron beam lithography. Our laboratory has published new results for the method of field-directed assembly, in which the nanofabrication process cost is independent of the number of devices. While drastically lowering the cost, this method also broadens the range of device materials and properties that can be used in instrument applications for sensitive mass and force detection. Unanswered questions affecting the performance of devices made by this method are studied in this thesis. Clamping variability can cause uncertainties in the device resonant frequency (effective stiffness), raising manufacturing metrology costs to track reduced homogeneity in performance. Using a numerical model, we quantify how compliant clamp material and insufficient clamp depth reduce the effective stiffness and resonance frequency. Obliquely clamped nanowires and defects at the clamp-nanowire interface break the symmetry and split the resonance frequency into fast and slow modes. The difference of resonance frequency between the fast and slow modes corresponds to the degree of asymmetry and must be controlled in fabrication to keep device error bounded. Optical transduction has been used for measuring the nanoresonator frequency spectrum; however, the influence of the laser in the measurement process is only recently receiving attention and is not well understood. We found that the measured spectrum is significantly influenced by laser-nanowire interaction. Variation of input laser power could result in resonance peak shifts in the kHz range for a resonance frequency in the MHz range, which could reduce device mass resolution by a factor of 100 or greater. As the laser power is increased, the resonance frequency decreases. The heating effect of the laser on temperature-dependent Young’s modulus could explain this phenomenon. To our surprise, we also found that the amplitude and frequency of the resonance peak signal vary significantly with the angle made by the plane of laser polarization with the nanowire axis. Our measurements established that the maximum signal amplitude is seen when the plane of the linearly polarized laser is parallel to SiNW or perpendicular to RhNW. Maximum resonance frequency was found when laser is polarized perpendicular to SiNW or parallel to RhNW.



nanowire resonator, laser-nanowire interaction, electrodeposited clamp, optical transduction