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In an array of identical resonators coupled through weak springs, a small perturbation in the structural properties of one of the resonators strongly impacts coupled oscillations causing the vibration modes to localize. Theoretical studies show that measuring the variation in eigenstates due to such vibration-mode localization can yield orders of magnitude enhancement in signal sensitivity over the technique of simply measuring induced resonant-frequency shifts. In this paper, we propose the application of mode localization for detecting small perturbations in stiffness in pairs of nearly identical weakly coupled microelectromechanical-system resonators and also examine the effect of initial mechanical asymmetry caused by fabrication tolerances in such sensors. For the first time, the variation in eigenstates is studied by coupling the resonators using electrostatic means that allow for significantly weaker coupling-spring constants and the possibility for stronger localization of vibration modes. Eigenstate variations that are nearly three orders of magnitude greater than the corresponding shifts in the resonant frequency for an induced perturbation in stiffness are experimentally demonstrated. Such high electrically tunable parametric sensitivities, together with the added advantage of intrinsic common-mode rejection, pave the way to a new paradigm of mechanical sensing.
Date of Publication: Oct. 2009