The eventual, widespread insertion of Micro-Opto-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MOEMS) into the marketplace rests fundamentally on the ability to produce viable components that maximize optical performance while minimizing power consumption and size. In addition, the incorporation of optical reconfigurability into custom MOEMS devices offers an extra degree of freedom not possible with conventional components. Active control of surface topology allows for one component to perform multiple functions thus reducing cost and complexity. This paper will focus on the current status of the MOEMS research program at the University at Albany Institute for Materials’ (UAIM) NanoFab 200 with several examples described to illustrate component and system development. In particular, among the MOEMS research portfolio at UAIM, the development of selected MOEMS-based, active optics will be discussed. This active control of diffraction and reflection forms the basis for the utility of such devices.
Leveraging the extensive research expertise on the patented MEMS Compound Grating (MCG), emphasis will be placed on the extension of the approach to novel designs, materials and fabrication methods to yield low power, high performance prototypes. The main focus of this paper is on the development of a polymer version (including sacrificial layer, in some designs) of the MCG which allows for ease of fabrication and a reduced electrostatic actuation voltage. Following a system design effort, several generations of the component were fabricated to optimize the process flow. Component metrology, electromechanical characterization and initial results of optical tests will be reported. A second example presented is the design and prototype fabrication of a spring micrograting using a customized SOI process. This highly flexible component builds on the MCG concept and yields an order of magnitude reduction in actuation voltage. These examples will be presented against a backdrop of the broad UAIM program to provide an overview of the applications of MOEMS and their integration with complementary technologies at the wafer level.