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Development and applications of novel opto-electromechanical systems micro-machined in silicon

Exploitable results

Generally speaking, adaptive optical systems are complex and expensive because there is no uniform technology for the fabrication of adaptive mirrors, control systems and wave-front sensors. So far, the technology has been developed in the direction of improving the system quality with very little attention paid to system costs. In the field of sensors, actuators and microsystems many new processing steps have been invented and applied to rather complex silicon structures. The micromachined membrane deformable mirror (MMDM), as developed, will create a breakthrough in optical information processing. It is based on silicon micromachining and provides for precision correction of light (laser) beams in different business sectors, such as optoelectronics, microelectronics, display technology and information processing. It combines the quality standards of more expensive adaptive optical systems, low fabrication cost and simplicity of control of the optical parameters with the possibility of mass production. Because of these features, whole new fields of applications have become possible, for example: quick focusing of imaging optics; correction of a human vision; and switches for fibre communication devices. Currently the MMDM technology is being used in: laser beam correction; microscopy; adaptive optics for astronomy. Compared to similar technologies, MMDM has higher spatial resolution, higher thermal stability and lower hysteresis. The only competitor provides for similar technology 20 times more expensive. To users it is, in fact, the only affordable adaptive optics technology available nowadays. MMDM technology especially applies to medium-sized companies in the field of electro-optics for whom it could be of great importance. In the long run, the position of the European optical industry in the world market certainly will be strengthened by the MMDM technology.