Nonlinear dynamics of a microelectromechanical mirror in an optical resonance cavity

Stav Zaitsev, Oded Gottlieb, Eyal Buks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The nonlinear dynamical behavior of a micromechanical resonator acting as one of the mirrors in an optical resonance cavity is investigated. The mechanical motion is coupled to the optical power circulating inside the cavity both directly through the radiation pressure and indirectly through heating that gives rise to a frequency shift in the mechanical resonance and to thermal deformation. The energy stored in the optical cavity is assumed to follow the mirror displacement without any lag. In contrast, a finite thermal relaxation rate introduces retardation effects into the mechanical equation of motion through temperature dependent terms. Using a combined harmonic balance and averaging technique, slow envelope evolution equations are derived. In the limit of small mechanical vibrations, the micromechanical system can be described as a nonlinear Duffing-like oscillator. Coupling to the optical cavity is shown to introduce corrections to the linear dissipation, the nonlinear dissipation and the nonlinear elastic constants of the micromechanical mirror. The magnitude and the sign of these corrections depend on the exact position of the mirror and on the optical power incident on the cavity. In particular, the effective linear dissipation can become negative, causing self-excited mechanical oscillations to occur as a result of either a subcritical or supercritical Hopf bifurcation. The full slow envelope evolution equations are used to derive the amplitudes and the corresponding oscillation frequencies of different limit cycles, and the bifurcation behavior is analyzed in detail. Finally, the theoretical results are compared to numerical simulations using realistic values of various physical parameters, showing a very good correspondence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1589-1610
Number of pages22
JournalNonlinear Dynamics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Sep 2012


  • Duffing oscillator
  • Forced vibration
  • Harmonic balance-averaging
  • Hopf bifurcation
  • MEMS
  • Optomechanical cavity
  • Self-excited oscillations

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Ocean Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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