Bell Labs switches on

Bell Labs switches on
Tom Foremski Researchers at Bell Labs are developing an optical switch using micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) based on tiny mirrors. Bell Labs has developed a prototype MEMS device that uses a microscale pivoting bar with a gold plated mirror. The mirror is placed between two optical fibres. When the switch is off, the mirror is below the axis of the fibres. Applying a voltage to one end of the seesaw results in electrostatic forces raising the mirror, reflecting the light from the optical fibre. The researchers say that the device cold be use to produce a cheap wavelength add/drop multiplexer, enabling the addition of signals at various points on an optical data communications line. The switch could be produced for as little as $1 per chip.


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