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InP-based optical waveguide MEMS switches with evanescent coupling mechanism

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7 Author(s)
Pruessner, M.W. ; Univ. of Maryland, College Park, MD, USA ; Amarnath, K. ; Datta, M. ; Kelly, D.P.
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An optical waveguide MEMS switch fabricated on an indium phosphide (InP) substrate for operation at 1550 nm wavelength is presented. Compared to other MEMS optical switches, which typically use relatively large mirrors or long end-coupled waveguides, our device uses a parallel switching mechanism. The device utilizes evanescent coupling between two closely-spaced waveguides fabricated side by side. Coupling is controlled by changing the gap and the coupling length between the two waveguides via electrostatic pull-in. This enables both optical switching and variable optical coupling at voltages below 10 V. Channel isolation as high as -47 dB and coupling efficiencies of up to 66% were obtained with switching losses of less than 0.5 dB. We also demonstrate voltage-controlled variable optical coupling over a 17.4 dB dynamic range. The devices are compact with 2 μm×2 μm core cross section and active area as small as 500 μm×5 μm. Due to the small travel range of the waveguides, fast operation is obtained with switching times as short as 4 μs. Future devices can be scaled down to less than 1 μm×1 μm waveguide cross-sectional area and device length less than 100 μm without significant change in device design.

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Microelectromechanical Systems, Journal of  (Volume:14 ,  Issue: 5 )