Optically Detecting Acoustic Oscillations at the Nanoscale: Exploring Techniques Suitable for Studying Elastic Wave Propagation

Oluwaseyi Balogun*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Nanoacoustics is the study of acoustic wave propagation on a submicron scale. Research in this area is motivated by fundamental [1] and technological interests [2]. On the fundamental side, nanoscale objects can provide information about the impact of size, geometry, and surface conditions on elastic properties, elastic energy dissipation, and the validity of continuum mechanics models close to the atomic scale. On the technological side, high-frequency (MHz-THz) nanomechanical oscillators and nanoelectromechanical systems are promising tools for electromechanical computers and information storage, sensors for ultraweak chemicals and biological agents and ultralow forces and masses, radio frequency mobile phone f ilters, and artificial brains for self-Aware autonomous vehicles. Furthermore, acoustic microscopy techniques [3]-[6] that rely on elastic waves with nanoscale wavelengths have great potential for materials characterization, failure analysis, and nondestructive imaging of 3D integrated structures with nanoscale scale spatial resolution. Surface acoustic waves (SAWs), which propagate in the near surface of a material with mechanical oscillations confined to a fraction of their wavelength from the surface, have nanoscale wavelengths at frequencies in the hundreds-of-GHz range. The nanoscale confinement of these elastic waves can facilitate studies of ultrasonic properties of individual grain boundaries in nanocrystalline materials [7], applicable to material fracture and nanoscale thermal transport [8].

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number8688390
Pages (from-to)39-54
Number of pages16
JournalIEEE Nanotechnology Magazine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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