In this paper we discuss a parametric sensing strategy employing noise activated escape in a bistable resonator; a system we refer to as the “balanced dynamical bridge.” Noise acting on a bistable system causes random switching between the two metastable states, and the occupation probabilities are very sensitive to system parameters in the weak noise limit. We calculate this sensitivity and the measurement time required when the bridge is employed as a general use detector. The bridge sensitivity is found to be inversely proportional to the noise strength and the measurement time is exponential. We then proceed to consider the dynamical bridge as a detector of non-Gaussian noise. We develop the conditions under which the bridge population ratio is exponentially sensitive only to third and higher moments of a perturbing non-Gaussian noise. As an example, we discuss the implementation of the bridge using a micro- or nano-scale resonator modeled by Duffing’s equation. The locus of parameter values for which the bridge is balanced is presented and we give an example of measuring the statistics of a shot noise process. We also briefly discuss how this class of systems can be employed in micro/nano-scale resonator applications, including mass and force spectroscopy and electron transport.

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