Application to micro-optics


During the past decade and most particularly in the late 1990's, MOEMS and Optical-MEMS field experienced fast growth. The first applications relied strongly on MEMS technologies. We can date their appearance: projection display systems, components for optical fiber communications (sources, switches, junctions, routers, etc.), optical sensors and imagery.

The optical functionality allowed by Microsystems goes from light emission, detection and amplification, to switching, spatial modulation, routing and optical signal basic treatment. Optical Microsystems performance increased with the advances in the material field and the development of a system approach for their conception.

The high market demand for these objects, although unstable, coupled with the intellectual challenges led to a spread in research and development activities as much on the academic level as on the industrial one. In line with those efforts, governments and private investors provided the needed financing for those developments, making the emergence of new concepts and new systems possible. The first models have been on the market for many years, most particularly in the field of the projection display systems.

Miniaturization is one of the aspects of the use of optical Microsystems. From the point of view of material bulk and costs, it's a significant factor in many cases. However, in most cases, miniaturization alone can't ensure the commercial success of Optical Microsystems. Optical Microsystems conclusive success factors are due to the new optical functions, made possible thanks to the use of these technologies. There are three factors of Optical Microsystems fundamental success:

  • the possibility to set up micro-device matrices at a large scale;

  • the ability to reset optical properties, spatially and temporally, using located micro-actuation and micro-deformation.

  • the nanoscale control of positioning precision and alignments for micronic scale devices, also known as “nanopositioning”.

This lesson is the continuation of the “Introduction to micro-optics” lesson, in which the basic concepts and the main manufacturing technologies are introduced. The goal is now to list a certain number of optical Microsystems applications, attempting to stress the emergence of these new functionalities and their impact on optical products.

The second part deals with an optical Microsystems' history, from research on the 1970's and 1980's solid-state physics to the current application.

The third part deals with a classification of optical Microsystems.

You will see in the fourth part some details about some specific Microsystems cases, with particular emphasis on the three factors mentioned above.

The last part is dedicated to a discussion about the problems relative to the materials needed in the drafting of these structures and about the challenges to be taken up, from a technical standpoint.

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