Dynamics of Small Elastic Systems in Fluid: Tension and Nonlinearity

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Virginia Tech

This work explores the physics of micro and nano-scale systems immersed in a fluid. Previous literature has established an understanding of the fluid-solid interaction for systems including cantilevers and doubly clamped beams. Building on these advances, this work extends the theory of doubly clamped beams with an arbitrary amount of tension. Both the driven and stochastic dynamics of a doubly clamped beam are explored. The driven dynamics are investigated for a spatially applied harmonic driving force, and demonstrates quantitative agreement with an experimental beam that is driven electrothermally, in both air and in water. For the stochastic dynamics, the noise spectrum describes the thermal fluctuations at a given frequency. The theoretical model provides an analytical expression for the noise spectrum from an arbitrary number of modes. The noise spectrum of the first eleven modes are computed, and show excellent agreement with the noise spectrum from finite element simulations, which is computed from the deterministic ring down. This agreement is shown across different fluids (air and water), and for multiple measuring points including at the beam midpoint and the quarter point.

In addition to exploring the linear dynamics of these systems, the case of large perturbations, resulting in nonlinear dynamics, is explored. This regime is motivated by exploring the theoretical dynamics of a uniformly shrinking doubly clamped beam. The challenges of modeling such a beam using finite element simulations are discussed. As a simpler and more direct alternative to access the nonlinear regime, a virtual beam is defined. The virtual beam controls the nonlinearity of the restoring force by modifying the Young's modulus. This work defines the Young's modulus such that the restoring force is like a Duffing oscillator. Then, the dynamics of this virtual beam are explored in air and water, and it is demonstrated that the Duffing oscillator serves as an appropriate reduced order model for this virtual beam. To understand the stochastic dynamics of the virtual beam, the stochastic Duffing oscillator is solved numerically. The ensemble autocorrelation of the beam dynamics are investigated for nonlinearities varying from linear to strongly nonlinear. The numeric autocorrelation is used to quantify the range of nonlinear strength where a deterministic approach, the ring down, can yield a good approximation. In the strongly nonlinear regime, the stochastic numerical approach is used to determine the autocorrelation.

This research was supported by the National Science Foundation, grant number CMMI-2001559, and portions of the computations were conducted using the resources of Virginia Tech's Advanced Research Computing center.

thermal fluctuations, MEMS, NEMS, nonlinearity