Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.


Electrical and Computer Engineering

Degree Program

Electrical Engineering, PhD

Committee Chair

Cohn, Robert W.

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Farag, Aly A.

Committee Member

Farag, Aly A.

Committee Member

Inanc, Tamer

Committee Member

Sumanasekera, Gamini

Author's Keywords

Nanomechanics; thermal vibration; optical detection; bead-on-a-string(BOS) fibers; quadrant photo detectors (QPD); young's modulus


A direct detection optical vibrometer is constructed around an 850 nm laser and a quadrant photodetector (QPD). The limit of detection is 0.2 fW which corresponds to a minimum amplitude of 0.1 Å. The vibrometer is used to measure the thermal vibration spectra of low stiffness micromechanical structures have nanometer features. One structure measured is a cantilevered 30 μm diameter glass fiber. Vibration amplitudes as low as 1.1 Å are measured. The thermal vibration spectra show fundamental resonances at 80-250 Hz and a signal to noise ratio (SNR) of 23-55 dB. Young’s modulus of glass in the cantilevers, estimated from the spectra, agree to within 3 % of the manufacturer’s value, which is somewhat more accurate than force-elongation measurements made of 50-100 mm long fibers which differ by 5 %. Mass changes due to adhering small drops of liquids to the tip of the fiber cantilevers shifts the resonant frequency with a sensitivity of 120 ng. The mass detection limit would decrease by 2-3 orders by increasing the length of the time series data. The intended purpose of the vibrometer development is the measurement of the thermal vibration of polymer bead-on-string (BOS) fibers with enough sensitivity to detect time-varying changes in the spectra that relate to molecular-level and temperature dependent changes, such as evaporation, solidification, crystallization and strain-dependent chain reorganizations of the polymer material. Time dependent variations in the BOS spectra are observed in vibrometer measurements that, if attributable to material properties, would represent 2.5-5.2 % change in elastic modulus, 20-40 % loss in water mass due to evaporation, with the minimum detectable change in these properties being 0.06 % for the measured spectra. The vibrometer provides an important tool for the real-time study of changing properties of BOS fibers, as well as other low stiffness microstructures, especially those composed of polymers and other soft mater.