Daniel Lopez, Center for Nanoscale Materials, Argonne National Laboratory
Embracing nonlinearity and thermal fluctuations in nanomechanics
Argonne Physics Division Colloquium - 9 Mar 2018
11:00 AM, Building 203 Auditorium

The field of micro-mechanics is now a well-established engineering domain with demonstrated impact in fundamental 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 fundamentals principles and fabrication processes cease to work. When going from micro- to nano-mechanical systems, the devices' linear dynamic range can be reduced to the point where the amplitudes needed for linear response are below the noise level and, as a consequence, operation in the nonlinear regime is unavoidable. Furthermore, thermal fluctuations and fluctuation-induced forces become relatively stronger causing significant changes in their dynamic response and on the manner in which they interact with the surrounding environment. 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 and nanosystems might effectively capitalize on this nonlinear fluctuating response. In this talk, I will demonstrate that nonlinearity offers unique possibilities for the controlled response of micro and nano mechanical devices and, thereby, a host of novel application opportunities. Examples of these opportunities include the development of ultra-sensitive detectors, compact frequency sources with low phase noise, the engineering of dissipation reservoirs to manipulate energy decay processes, and the enhancement of synchronization range between oscillators.

Argonne Physics Division Colloquium Schedule