Subject Area

Mechanical Engineering


Optical sensors have become more prominent in atmospheric measurement systems, with LiDAR instruments deployed on a variety of earth-bound, air-borne, and space-based platforms. In recent years, the interest in the human exploration of Mars has created a substantial push towards reliable and compact sensing elements for Mars exploration missions, particularly during a spacecraft’s entry, descent, and landing stages. Real-time sensors able to reliably measure the craft’s speed relative to the surrounding atmosphere during these stages are thus of great interest. In this dissertation, a proof-of-concept for an optical microfabricated sensor, which leverages the whispering-gallery-mode (WGM) and Doppler shift principles, is developed to measure wind speed from atmospheric particles through light scattering. WGM micro-resonators could replace Fabry–Perot interferometers and other optical frequency discriminators often employed in remote sensing applications, thereby significantly reducing the size and weight of the measurement system. The capabilities of the presented sensor concept are first studied under the aerosol scattering regime, and the measurement resolution of the WGM resonators is assessed. An optical system is developed, and velocity measurements near the exit of a seeded air jet nozzle are carried out to validate the velocity measurement capabilities from aerosol streams.

The feasibility of employing WGM resonators for molecular scattering-based measurements of atmospheric properties is also investigated. A modified mathematical model for coherent and spontaneous scattering is implemented in the performance analyses of the resonators for different altitudes of Earth and Mars atmospheres. Spectral profiles generated from the model are compared to those in the literature under similar conditions. An analysis for photon count under various atmospheric conditions and altitudes is also carried out. The analyses indicate that WGM resonator-based spectral instruments may be viable as part of future compact and lightweight atmospheric sensors.

Degree Date

Spring 5-14-2022

Document Type


Degree Name



Mechanical Engineering


M. Volkan Otugen

Second Advisor

Paul Krueger

Third Advisor

Peter Raad

Fourth Advisor

Kevin Brenner

Fifth Advisor

Dominique Fourguette

Number of Pages




Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License