Diffraction-based optical switching with MEMS

Pierre Alexandre Blanche, Lloyd LaComb, Youmin Wang, Ming C. Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


We are presenting an overview of MEMS-based (Micro-Electro-Mechanical System) optical switch technology starting from the reflective two-dimensional (2D) and three-dimensional (3D) MEMS implementations. To further increase the speed of the MEMS from these devices, the mirror size needs to be reduced. Small mirror size prevents efficient reflection but favors a diffraction-based approach. Two implementations have been demonstrated, one using the Texas Instruments DLP (Digital Light Processing), and the other an LCoS-based (Liquid Crystal on Silicon) SLM (Spatial Light Modulator). These switches demonstrated the benefit of diffraction, by independently achieving high speed, efficiency, and high number of ports. We also demonstrated for the first time that PSK (Phase Shift Keying) modulation format can be used with diffraction-based devices. To be truly effective in diffraction mode, the MEMS pixels should modulate the phase of the incident light. We are presenting our past and current efforts to manufacture a new type of MEMS where the pixels are moving in the vertical direction. The original structure is a 32 × 32 phase modulator array with high contrast grating pixels, and we are introducing a new sub-wavelength linear array capable of a 310 kHz modulation rate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number411
JournalApplied Sciences (Switzerland)
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 19 2017


  • Data-communication
  • Diffraction
  • MEMS
  • Optical switch

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Instrumentation
  • Engineering(all)
  • Process Chemistry and Technology
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes


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