Resolution Limits of Resonant Sensors

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Resonant sensors hold great promise in measuring small masses, to enable future mass spectrometers, and small forces in applications like atomic and magnetic force microscopy. During the last decades, scaling down the size of resonators has led to huge enhancements in sensing resolution, but has also raised the question of what the ultimate limit is. Current knowledge suggests that this limit is reached when a resonator oscillates at the maximum amplitude for which its response is predominantly linear. We present experimental evidence that it is possible to obtain better resolutions by oscillation amplitudes beyond the onset of nonlinearities. An analytical model is developed that explains the observations and unravels the relation between ultimate sensing resolution and speed. In the high-speed limit, we find that the ultimate resolution of a resonator is improved when decreasing its damping. This conclusion contrasts with previous works, which proposed that lowering the damping does not affect or even harms the ultimate sensing resolution.

Original languageEnglish
Article number054074
Number of pages16
JournalPhysical Review Applied
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2023


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