Abstract

A dual-shutter MEMS variable optical attenuator (VOA) is designed for advanced tuning functions such as linear attenuation relationship and simultaneous coarse and fine tunings. The mechanism behind is to take advantage of the additional shutter to render one more degree of freedom for attenuation adjustment. Although dual-shutter VOAs with asymmetric functionalities have been reported before, these intrinsic capabilities owing to asymmetry have not been extensively investigated. In experiment, the fabricated VOA device has demonstrated a linear tuning over a 20-dB range with respect to the driving voltage of one shutter, and it has also realized simultaneously coarse tuning (2.5 dB/V) and fine tuning (0.1 dB/V) by the two shutters. Ideally, the tuning can start from any available working point, linear to any controlling parameter, at any slope of linearity, and with any tuning resolution. Theoretical attenuation model has also been developed to provide a roadmap for the VOA design and choice of working point. An interesting finding is that over a certain range the linear attenuation can be obtained by moving a fixed aperture rather than by reducing the aperture size, which greatly relaxes the difficulty of shutter position control. The measured results match well with the theoretical data, implying the possibility of developing a look-up table to locate the shutter positions quickly. The dual-shutter VOA accomplishes these features without the need of high-precision control systems and therefore gives a structure-based rather than a control-system-based solution, clearly advantageous over the previously developed VOAs.

© 2008 IEEE

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