Technical Design Considerations for MEMS-Based Small Port Count Optical Switches
A crucial component in optical networking is the small port count (1x2, 2x2, 1x4, etc.) optical switch. These switches are widely used by equipment vendors for both today's and tomorrow's protection/restoration, add/drop, and monitoring applications. As next generation networks evolve, small matrix switches (4x4, 8x8, etc.) will become more prevalent. In this white paper, the design concerns for MEMS-based small port count optical switches are addressed. In these devices, the MEMS chips are essentially replacing the actuation and light deflecting elements of the opto-mechanical switches that are prevalent in optical switching applications today. Many other technologies exist for switching light, mostly waveguide-based (i.e. liquid crystal or thermo-optic switches), but they are not discussed here.