Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

First Advisor

Ronald A. Coutu, Jr., PhD.


Sensitive Microelectromechanical System (MEMS) cantilever designs were modeled, fabricated, and tested to measure the photoacoustic (PA) response of gasses to terahertz (THz) radiation. Surface and bulk micromachining technologies were employed to create the extremely sensitive devices that could detect very small changes in pressure. Fabricated devices were then tested in a custom made THz PA vacuum test chamber where the cantilever deflections caused by the photoacoustic effect were measured with a laser interferometer and iris beam clipped methods. The sensitive cantilever designs achieved a normalized noise equivalent absorption coefficient of 2.83x10-10 cm-1 W Hz-1/2 using a 25 µW radiation source power and a 1 s sampling time. Traditional gas phase molecular spectroscopy absorption cells are large and bulky. The outcome of this research resulted was a photoacoustic detection method that was virtually independent of the absorption path-length, which allowed the chamber dimensions to be greatly reduced, leading to the possibility of a compact, portable chemical detection and spectroscopy system.

AFIT Designator


DTIC Accession Number