Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Graphene mechanical oscillators with tunable frequency

Abstract

Oscillators, which produce continuous periodic signals from direct current power, are central to modern communications systems, with versatile applications including timing references and frequency modulators1,2,3,4,5,6,7. However, conventional oscillators typically consist of macroscopic mechanical resonators such as quartz crystals, which require excessive off-chip space. Here, we report oscillators built on micrometre-size, atomically thin graphene nanomechanical resonators, whose frequencies can be electrostatically tuned by as much as 14%. Self-sustaining mechanical motion is generated and transduced at room temperature in these oscillators using simple electrical circuitry. The prototype graphene voltage-controlled oscillators exhibit frequency stability and a modulation bandwidth sufficient for the modulation of radiofrequency carrier signals. As a demonstration, we use a graphene oscillator as the active element for frequency-modulated signal generation and achieve efficient audio signal transmission.

This is a preview of subscription content

Access options

Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

$32.00

All prices are NET prices.

Figure 1: Self-sustained graphene mechanical oscillators.
Figure 2: Stability of graphene mechanical oscillators.
Figure 3: Voltage-controlled tunable oscillations.
Figure 4: Graphene radio station.

References

  1. Nguyen, C-C. MEMS technology for timing and frequency control. IEEE Trans. Ultrason. Ferroelectr. Freq. Control 54, 251–270 (2007).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Ekinci, K. L. & Roukes, M. L. Nanoelectromechanical systems. Rev. Sci. Instrum. 76, 061101 (2005).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Hajimiri, A. & Thomas, L. The Design of Low Noise Oscillators (Springer, 1999).

    Google Scholar 

  4. Huang, X. M. H., Zorman, C. A., Mehregany, M. & Roukes, M. L. Nanodevice motion at microwave frequencies. Nature 421, 496 (2003).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Feng, X. L., White, C. J., Hajimiri, A. & Roukes, M. L. A self-sustaining ultrahigh-frequency nanoelectromechanical oscillator. Nature Nanotech. 3, 342–346 (2008).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Villanueva, L. G. et al. A nanoscale parametric feedback oscillator. Nano Lett. 11, 5054–5059 (2011).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Hanay, M. S. et al. Single-protein nanomechanical mass spectrometry in real time. Nature Nanotech. 7, 602–608 (2012).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Van Beek, J. T. M. & Puers, R. A review of mems oscillators for frequency reference and timing applications. J. Micromech. Microeng. 22, 013001 (2012).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Geim, A. K. & Novoselov, K. S. The rise of graphene. Nature Mater. 6, 183–191 (2007).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Lee, C., Wei, X., Kysar, J. W. & Hone, J. Measurement of the elastic properties and intrinsic strength of monolayer graphene. Science 321, 385–388 (2008).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Lee, G-H. et al. High-strength chemical-vapor; deposited graphene and grain boundaries. Science 340, 1073–1076 (2013).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Chen, C. et al. Performance of monolayer graphene nanomechanical resonators with electrical readout. Nature Nanotech. 4, 861–867 (2009).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Zande, A. M. v. d. et al. Large-scale arrays of single-layer graphene resonators. Nano Lett. 10, 4869–4873 (2010).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Song, X. et al. Stamp transferred suspended graphene mechanical resonators for radio frequency electrical readout. Nano Lett. 12, 198–202 (2011).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Eichler, A. et al. Nonlinear damping in mechanical resonators made from carbon nanotubes and graphene. Nature Nanotech. 6, 339–342 (2011).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Singh, V. et al. Probing thermal expansion of graphene and modal dispersion at low-temperature using graphene nanoelectromechanical systems resonators. Nanotechnology 21, 165204 (2010).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Nathanson, H., Newell, W., Wickstrom, R. & Davis, J. The resonant gate transistor. IEEE Trans. Electron. Dev. 14, 117–133 (1967).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Xu, Y. et al. Radio frequency electrical transduction of graphene mechanical resonators. Appl. Phys. Lett. 97, 243111 (2010).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Lee, S. et al. Electrically integrated SU-8 clamped graphene drum resonators for strain engineering. Appl. Phys. Lett. 102, 153101 (2013).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Li, X. et al. Large-area synthesis of high-quality and uniform graphene films on copper foils. Science 324, 1312–1314 (2009).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Ham, D. & Hajimiri, A. Virtual damping and einstein relation in oscillators. IEEE J. Solid-State Circ. 38, 407–418 (2003).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Leeson, D. A simple model of feedback oscillator noise spectrum. Proc. IEEE 54, 329–330 (1966).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Hajimiri, A. & Lee, T. A general theory of phase noise in electrical oscillators. IEEE J. Solid-State Circ. 33, 179–194 (1998).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Yang, Y-T. Phase Noise of Nanoelectromechanical Systems PhD thesis, California Institute of Technology (2007).

  25. Villanueva, L. G. et al. Surpassing fundamental limits of oscillators using nonlinear resonators. Phys. Rev. Lett. 110, 177208 (2013).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Jensen, K., Weldon, J., Garcia, H. & Zettl, A. Nanotube radio. Nano Lett. 7, 3508–3511 (2007).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Bartsch, S. T., Rusu, A. & Ionescu, A. M. A single active nanoelectromechanical tuning fork front-end radio-frequency receiver. Nanotechnology 23, 225501 (2012).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Bae, S. et al. Roll-to-roll production of 30-inch graphene films for transparent electrodes. Nature Nanotech. 5, 574–578 (2010).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Nguyen, C-C. Vibrating RF MEMS technology: fuel for an integrated micromechanical circuit revolution? 13th International Conference on Solid-State Sensors, Actuators and Microsystems, 2005, Digest of Technical Papers. TRANSDUCERS ’05, 1, 243–246 (2005).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Nguyen, C-C., Katehi, L. P. B. & Rebeiz, G. Micromachined devices for wireless communications. Proc. IEEE 86, 1756–1768 (1998).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Cross, M. C., Zumdieck, A., Lifshitz, R. & Rogers, J. L. Synchronization by nonlinear frequency pulling. Phys. Rev. Lett. 93, 224101 (2004).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

The authors thank P. Kim, J. Kymissis, A. van der Zande, N. Petrone, A. Gondarenko, E. Hwang, C. Lee, A. Molnar and V. Abramsky for discussions. Fabrication was performed at the Cornell Nano-Scale Facility, a member of the National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network, which is supported by the National Science Foundation (grant ECS-0335765), and the Center for Engineering and Physical Science Research (CEPSR) Clean Room at Columbia University. The authors acknowledge support from the Qualcomm Innovation Fellowship (QInF) 2012 and AFOSR MURI FA9550-09-1-0705. G.H.L. acknowledges support from Samsung-SKKU Graphene Center.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Contributions

C.C., S.L. and J.H. conceived and designed the experiments. C.C., S.L. and V.V.D. performed the experiments and analysed the data. G-H.L. provided the samples. M.L. and K.S. contributed measurement/analysis tools. C.C., S.L. and J.H. co-wrote the paper. All authors discussed the results and commented on the manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to James Hone.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Supplementary information

Supplementary information

Supplementary Information (PDF 1482 kb)

Supplementary movie 1

Supplementary movie 1 (WAV 2759 kb)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Chen, C., Lee, S., Deshpande, V. et al. Graphene mechanical oscillators with tunable frequency. Nature Nanotech 8, 923–927 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1038/nnano.2013.232

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/nnano.2013.232

Further reading

Search

Quick links

Find nanotechnology articles, nanomaterial data and patents all in one place. Visit Nano by Nature Research