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Short Course 5

Optical MEMS In Communication and Sensing:
Fabrication, Design and Scaling of Optical Microsystems
Instructor: Olav Solgaard, Stanford University, USA

The toolbox developed for fabrication of integrated circuits and MEMS is exceptionally well suited for realization of optical devices and systems. There are several reasons for this. First, the dimensions, and dimensional control, of micromachined structures can be on the order of or smaller than the wavelength of light, which enables accurate control of optical fields. Second, even relatively weak MEMS actuators provide more than sufficient force for manipulation of photons. Finally, actuated micromirror and micrograting arrays enable optical functions that cannot practically be implemented using traditional optical fabrication technology.

MEMS technology therefore has the potential to revolutionize optical science and technology by providing miniaturized, low-cost, massively parallel, highly-functionalized, optical microsystems. At present, the biggest impacts of optical MEMS technology are in high-resolution projection displays and fiber-optic communications. Other promising application areas include adaptive optics, free-space communication, spectroscopy, tunable lasers, and interferometric sensors.

This course describes the materials, processes, and devices that form the foundation of optical microsystems, and discusses the prospects for further developments. Both proven, commercial fabrication technology, as well as emerging techniques, will be presented. Design of microoptical devices and systems will be discussed with an emphasis on fundamentals of optical interactions in microstructures. Case studies focussing on displays, diffractive optics, fiber optics, spectroscopy, and microsensors will be used to illustrate fundamentals and provide practical information about applications.