Optical microsystems emerge in industrial applications

SAN ANTONIO--September 12, 2002--Applications are growing in strength for microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), which merge electronic and mechanical features. These devices have also spawned a promising optically related subsegment, microoptoelectromechanical systems (MOEMS). These optical systems show great potential for use in several industry segments, including displays, biomedicine, and telecommunications.

MEMS technology, based on micromachining used in integrated circuit processing, has advanced significantly in recent years. The combination of micromachined devices with microelectronics and microoptics has further expanded the range of potential applications.

"The unique capability of MEMS to integrate optical, mechanical, and electrical components on a single wafer allows for the implementation of various key optical-network elements in a compact, low-cost form," says Technical Insights' Analyst James Smith.

Various MEMS components and sub-systems such as high-speed optical modulators, reconfigurable wavelength-add/drop multiplexers, and optical cross connects have been demonstrated for optical-fiber communications. Some of the early-developed devices have already been refined within remarkably short time-scales and are poised for commercial realization.

Intense research and development efforts could result in major commercialization activities over the next ten years. However, there still is a lack of understanding of market needs and application requirements. Higher value-added solutions are necessary for devices being marketed presently. These are fabricated through the use of integrated functions and packaging.

Since cost and reliability are always key issues in emerging technologies, extensive attempts have been made to create these devices without any macroscopic mechanical parts that might lead to higher costs and unreliability. New ways to overcome transmission obstacles and provisioning and restoring

Contact: Julia Rowell
Technical Insights

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