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Opportunities and challenges for MEMS in lightwave communications

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2 Author(s)
L. Y. Lin ; Tellium, Inc., West Long Branch, NJ, USA ; E. L. Goldstein

Over the remarkably short interval of just a few years, optical microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) have breached the gulf from laboratory curiosity to advanced development and early trial deployment in lightwave-communications systems. This owes largely to the ease with which the technology has demonstrated high optical quality and reasonably fast tuning and switching subsystems that are compact and potentially low in cost. Lightwave micromachines now threaten to make possible functional structures for building tunable lasers and filters, dynamic gain-equalizers, chromatic dispersion-compensators, wavelength-add-drop multiplexers, and polarization-controllers that represent substantial improvements over the conventional state of the art. More extravagant yet, both in promise and in expectations, is the potential of MEMS as a means of building the large-port-count optical switches that are just now becoming needed by emerging mesh-based core transport networks. In this paper, we review the current status and prospects for MEMS in lightwave communications, with particular emphasis on high-port-count core optical cross connects, and discuss challenges that still confront this technology

Published in:

IEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Quantum Electronics  (Volume:8 ,  Issue: 1 )