Improving mechanical sensor performance through larger damping.
Mechanical resonances are used in a wide variety of devices; from smart phone accelerometers to computer clocks and from wireless communication filters to atomic force microscope sensors. Frequency stability, a critical performance metric, is generally assumed to be tantamount to resonance quality factor (the inverse of the linewidth and of the damping). Here we show that frequency stability of resonant nanomechanical sensors can generally be made independent of quality factor. At high bandwidths, we show that quality factor reduction is completely mitigated by increases in signal to noise ratio. At low bandwidths, strikingly, increased damping leads to better stability and sensor resolution, with improvement proportional to damping. We confirm the findings by demonstrating temperature resolution of 50 \mu K at 200 Hz bandwidth. These results open the door for high performance ultrasensitive resonant sensors in gaseous or liquid environments, single cell nanocalorimetry, nanoscale gas chromatography, and atmospheric pressure nanoscale mass spectrometry.
Publisher URL: http://arxiv.org/abs/1710.11280
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