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Stochastic and non-linear processes in nano-electro-mechanical systems

Abstract : In this thesis we address cryogenic nano-electro-mechanical systems (NEMS) from 30 mK to 30 K sensitive to conditions involving fluctuations or disorder. The fundamental aspects studied are ubiquitous in NEMS physics, and for some of them go beyond, with possible analogies with phase transitions or NMR.In the first part of this work we focus on the NEMS position noise, which is a good example of Brownian motion within a confinement potential. Owing to the system’s intrinsic geometric nonlinearity, the potential anharmonicity translates each mode’s Brownian motion into fluctuations of the structure’s resonance eigenfrequencies. As a result we observe experimentally a spectral diffusion phenomenon that manifests through a linewidth broadening and a frequency shift of the resonance line: they account non-trivially for the competition between the probed mode’s response’s phase diffusion due to the transduction mechanism and the fluctuating modes relaxation mechanisms. A path integral approach to diffusion encompasses analytically the effect. Such a mechanism alters a mechanical mode’s resonance without changing energy transfers to the mode’s thermal bath. Furthermore, adding a strong sinusoidal excitation acts back on the out-of-equilibrium fluctuations through the nonlinearity: the system dynamics is slowed down, with its fluctuations squeezed, in peculiar points of the parameters space, near or within the non-linearity induced bistable regime. Finally, model experiments are realized so as to understand classical mechanical decoherence, through the use of an extrinsic frequency noise, artificially crafted thanks to a gate electrode coupled to the NEMS.In a second part, some microscopic mechanisms leading to mechanical damping and internal frequency noise of a mechanical mode are investigated, as they are still elusive to date for NEMS. We first consider the case of an external but universal source of damping, which originates from the momentum transfer between the NEMS and the gas flowing in the experimental cell, here Helium 4. In the rarefied limit, dissipation in a ballistic gas is well described by kinetic theory. Yet, unexpectedly, we observe at our lowest pressures a discrepancy between our measurements and theory. We show for several temperatures and samples that this deviation scales with the ratio between the gas atoms mean free path and the gap between the NEMS and the sample’s bottom trench. This result is modelled phenomenologically as arising from diffusive scattering of gas atoms at the bottom’s wall, which at small lengthscales has a disordered landscape. Diffusive scattering results in a deviation to the Maxwellian distribution, leading to a gas density gradient in the vicinity of the wall, established over a distance comparable with the mean free path, and which renormalizes the mechanical energy relaxation rate. Therefore, the NEMS acts as a non-invasive probe in a nonequilibrium medium due to its small cross-section. Finally, we investigate the NEMS intrinsic dissipation down to 30 milliKelvin. We highlight the role of low-energy excitations coupled to the NEMS deformation in damping mechanisms. These excitations, allowed by the disordered structure of the NEMS constitutive materials, are modelled as atoms tunneling between two equivalent positions of the atomic lattice (also referred to as TLS). Using a new technique which relies on the NEMS non-linearity, we measure the intrinsic frequency noise, and we show that it can be linked phenomenologically to the damping due to the TLS.
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  • HAL Id : tel-01838678, version 1

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Olivier Maillet. Stochastic and non-linear processes in nano-electro-mechanical systems. Condensed Matter [cond-mat]. Université Grenoble Alpes, 2018. English. ⟨NNT : 2018GREAY009⟩. ⟨tel-01838678⟩

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