Selective vibrational detachment of microspheres using optically excited in-plane motion of nanomechanical beams

B. Ilic*, S. Krylov, M. Kondratovich, H. G. Craighead

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Optical excitation plays an important role in the actuation of higher flexural and torsional modes of nanoelectromechanical oscillators. We show that optical fields are efficient for excitation, direct control, and measurement of in-plane motion of cantilever-type nanomechanical oscillators. As a model system, 200- and 250-nm-thick single-crystal silicon cantilevers with dissimilar lengths and widths ranging from 6 to 12 μm and 500 nm to 1 μm, respectively, were fabricated using surface micromachining and dynamically analyzed using optical excitation and interferrometric detection. Three-dimensional finite element analysis incorporating shear, rotational inertia, cross-sectional deplanation, and nonideal boundary conditions due to the structural undercut describe the dynamics of the nanomechanical structures adequately. The quality factor of a particular in-plane harmonic was consistently higher than the transverse mode. The increased dissipation of the out-of-plane mode was attributed to material and acoustic loss mechanisms. The in-plane mode was used to demonstrate vibrational detachment of submicrometer polystyrene spheres on the oscillator surface. In contrast, the out-of-plane motion, even in the strong nonlinear impact regime, was insufficient for the removal of bound polystyrene spheres. Our results suggest that optical excitation of in-plane mechanical modes provide a unique mechanism for controlled removal of particles bound on the surface of nanomechanical oscillators.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2171-2177
Number of pages7
JournalNano Letters
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2007


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