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Optical Networking Best Practices Handbook by John R. Vacca

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10.5. OPTICAL MEMS

All-optical switching seemed such a compellingly logical application for optical MEMS that the two became closely identified during the telecommunications bubble. The collapse of the bubble hit MEMS switches hard—the demand for all-optical switches evaporated along with plans for AONs of tremendous capacity, and technical issues emerged for MEMS switches. High-profile products were canceled, startups folded, and gloom spread [5].

Yet, the prospects for optical MEMS are not really dark because they have applications reaching far beyond the massive OXCs envisioned as gigantic markets during the bubble. Smaller-scale MEMS switches are attractive for applications such as optical add/drop multiplexers (OADMs). Optical MEMS can also be used in displays, tunable filters, gain-equalizing filters, tunable lasers, and various other applications. Home projection televisions containing optical MEMS are already on the market and more new systems are in development [5].

10.5.1. MEMS Concepts and Switches

MEMS is an acronym for microelectromechanical systems—microscopic mechanical devices fabricated from semiconductors and compatible materials using photolithographic techniques. Mechanical structures small enough to be flexed over a limited range of angles are chemically etched from layered structures, where they remain suspended above a substrate. Electronic circuits on the substrate control their motion by applying voltages or currents, generating electrostatic or magnetic ...

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