From Technical Insights
Optical microsystems emerge in industrial applications
Technical Insights' optical MEMS analysis
SAN ANTONIO--September 12, 2002--Applications are growing in strength for microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), which merge electronic and mechanical features. These devices have also spawned a promising optically related subsegment, microoptoelectromechanical systems (MOEMS). These optical systems show great potential for use in several industry segments, including displays, biomedicine, and telecommunications.
MEMS technology, based on micromachining used in integrated circuit processing, has advanced significantly in recent years. The combination of micromachined devices with microelectronics and microoptics has further expanded the range of potential applications.
"The unique capability of MEMS to integrate optical, mechanical, and electrical components on a single wafer allows for the implementation of various key optical-network elements in a compact, low-cost form," says Technical Insights' Analyst James Smith.
Various MEMS components and sub-systems such as high-speed optical modulators, reconfigurable wavelength-add/drop multiplexers, and optical cross connects have been demonstrated for optical-fiber communications. Some of the early-developed devices have already been refined within remarkably short time-scales and are poised for commercial realization.
Intense research and development efforts could result in major commercialization activities over the next ten years. However, there still is a lack of understanding of market needs and application requirements. Higher value-added solutions are necessary for devices being marketed presently. These are fabricated through the use of integrated functions and packaging.
Since cost and reliability are always key issues in emerging technologies, extensive attempts have been made to create these devices without any macroscopic mechanical parts that might lead to higher costs and unreliability. New ways to overcome transmission obstacles and provisioning and restoring network traffic in units at roughly the wavelength level also have to be found.
"Optical MEMS are not only an emerging technology but an engineering principle with a myriad of far-reaching applications," says Smith.
MOEMS is undeniably a technology with numerous opportunities for applications. The biomedical field is a potential market segment as these devices are essentially laboratories on a chip carrying out analysis on a miniaturized scale. The display sector is also a prospective application segment, with use for MOEMS in projection displays, portable communications devices, other handheld devices, and instrumentation displays.
According to industry experts, MOEMS technology will be driven by the progress in optical communications. Photonic switches, scanners, displays, and micromirrors will be the main devices that will enable MOEMS to penetrate large instrumentation and telecommunications markets.
New analysis by Technical Insights, a business unit of Frost & Sullivan (www.Technical-Insights.frost.com), Optical MEMS, highlights the implications of this new technology for different industries.
Technical Insights will hold a conference call at 1:00 p.m. (EDT)/ 10:00 a.m. (PDT) on September 19, 2002 to provide a summary and analysis of the latest developments in optical MEMS. Those interested in participating in the call should send an email to Julia Rowell at email@example.com with the following information for registration:
Full name, Company Name, Title, Contact Tel Number, Contact Fax Number, Email. Upon receipt of the above information, a confirmation/pass code for the live briefing will be emailed to you.
Frost & Sullivan is a global leader in strategic market consulting and training. Acquired by Frost & Sullivan, Technical Insights is an international technology analysis business that produces a variety of technical news alerts, newsletters, and reports. The ongoing analysis on Optical MEMS technologies is covered in Sensor Technology Alert, a Technical Insights subscription service, and in MEMS, a Frost & Sullivan Technical Insights technology report. Executive summaries and interviews are available to the press.
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