Fundamental noise limits for miniature acoustic and vibration sensors

Thomas B. Gabrielson

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


Recent technological advances in microfabrication and fiber optics have made practical the construction of very small, sensitive sensors for acoustic or vibration measurements. As the sensitivity is increased or the size is decreased, a sensor becomes more susceptible to mechanical noise resulting from molecular agitation. Traditional noise analysis is often focused exclusively on electrical or optical noise; consequently, mechanical-thermal noise may not be considered in new types of sensors until the prototype testing reveals an unexpectedly high noise floor. Fortunately, mechanical-thermal noise is relatively easy to estimate early in the design process because the equivalent noise force is only a function of the temperature and the mechanical losses in the sensor. There are a number of specific techniques that are applicable for evaluating either the total mechanical-thermal noise or the spectral distribution of that noise for simple or complex sensors. These techniques are presented and, in addition, a summary of other noise components is given in the context of design guidelines for high-sensitivity sensors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Society of Mechanical Engineers (Paper)
StatePublished - Dec 1 1993
EventProceedings of the ASME Winter Conference - New Orleans, LA, USA
Duration: Nov 28 1993Dec 3 1993

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Mechanical Engineering


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