Limit cycle oscillations in CW laser-driven NEMS

Keith Aubin, Maxim Zalalutdinov, Tuncay Alan, Robert B. Reichenbach, Richard Rand, Alan Zehnder, Jeevak Parpia, Harold Craighead

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

89 Scopus citations


Limit cycle, or self-oscillations, can occur in a variety of NEMS devices illuminated within an interference field. As the device moves within the field, the quantity of light absorbed and hence the resulting thermal stresses changes, resulting in a feedback loop that can lead to limit cycle oscillations. Examples of devices that exhibit such behavior are discussed as are experimental results demonstrating the onset of limit cycle oscillations as continuous wave (CW) laser power is increased. A model describing the motion and heating of the devices is derived and analyzed. Conditions for the onset of limit cycle oscillations are computed as are conditions for these oscillations to be either hysteretic or nonhysteretic. An example simulation of a particular device is discussed and compared with experimental results.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1018-1026
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Microelectromechanical Systems
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2004


  • Finite element method (FEM)
  • Laser drive
  • Limit cycle oscillation
  • Self-oscillation
  • Thermal stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering


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