Proceedings PaperMEMS technology and explosive growth fiber optical communication
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Silicon micromachines are an emerging technology that will impact almost every area of science and technology. From industries as diverse as automotive, cellular, aerospace, chemical as well as lightwave systems, N/MEMS (Nano/Microelectromechanical Systems) is rapidly becoming the solution of choice for many technical problems. MEMS devices are, in general, built using standard IC techniques. Starting with a silicon wafer and depositing a series of films such as nitrides, polysilicon, oxides and metals, one builds a complex three-dimensional structure in much the same way one builds an IC. However, unlike an IC, one then releases the device by etching away the oxides, producing a structure that can move. This subtle change in processing allows one to produce devices that move including rotary gears, hinges, plates, flexural beams and motors of every imaginable type. In optical fiber communication, MEMS allows one to build a wide range of components including data modulators, variable attenuators, optical switches, active equalizers, add/drop multiplexers, optical crossconnects (OXCs), dispersion compensators, all- optical switches, tunable laser sources, active packages and adaptive optical elements. In this paper, the design and fabrication of MEMS optical devices using readily available standard fabrication facilities for different fiber optical communication applications will be discussed in details.