On-chip nano-optomechanical systems (NOMS) have demonstrated a zeptogram-level mass sensitivity and are promising candidates for low-cost implementations in areas such as metabolite quantitation and chemical analysis. High responsivity and sensitivity call for substantial optomechanical coupling and cavity finesse, resulting in detuning-dependent stiffness and mechanical damping via optomechanical back-action. Since mass loading (or temperature or force change) can alter both mechanical and cavity properties, mechanical frequency shifts induced by loading can encompass both effects. Precision sensing requires understanding and quantifying the source of the frequency tuning. Here, we show the deconvolution of direct loading and optomechanical stiffness change on the mechanical eigenfrequency as a function of detuning for a nano-optomechanical sensor in gaseous sensing experiments. Responses were generally dominated by shifts in optical stiffness and resulted in a mass loading signal amplification by as much as a factor of 2.5. This establishes an alternative possible route toward better mass sensitivity in NOMS while confirming the importance of incorporating optical stiffness effects for precision mass sensing.

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