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Nanotech Alert

Published by Technical Insights (Frost & Sullivan)
Published 12 issues / year Content info
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Nanotech Alert
Published: 12 issues / year Content info:

With nanotechnology set to revolutionize almost every industry and branch of science there has never been a greater need to stay current with the latest technological developments and opportunities. Nanotech Alert, is the tool you need for insights into the latest discoveries in nanotechnology before they become common knowledge. Nanotech Alert not only provides market projections and analyses, but also introduces you to the organizations and key players involved in this exciting new field.

Each Alert offers:

* An insightful look at nanotechnology in industries-from aerospace and electronics to genetic engineering.
Strategic business opportunities for licensing, partnering and investment.

* Presentation of the key players behind the technology including their contact information.

* New applications in research and development with analyses of expected results and impact.

Sample Briefing


Nailing home a thought that is beginning to occur to a lot of people in a number of industries, the researchers who created a new kind of optical switch at Bell Labs state, unequivocally, that the device shows that MEMS will be a disruptive technology. It can change the paradigm for an entire industry. In this case the industry is optical communications. MEMS is just such a good fit.

MEMS (micro-electromechanical systems) technology was used at Bell Labs to build a tiny optical switch that works like a seesaw. It's the first practical light switching technology to use MEMS. Bell Labs researchers, already deep into optical networking systems, think the advance will be the basic switching technology for future optical fiber work.

The lab bench prototype is a microscale pivoting bar with a gold plated mirror on one end. The mirrored end fits in a space between two optical fibers lined up end to end. If the switch is off, the mirror rests below the cores of the two fibers, so lightwave signals can travel from the core of one to the other. Apply a voltage to the other end of the bar and you turn the switch on. A plate is attached to that end of the bar and electrostatic forces pull the plate down, lifting the bar so that the mirror reflects the light instead of letting it move from one fiber to the other.

The new technology could lead to a variety of devices and systems. One Bell Labs already has in mind is a wavelength add/drop multiplexer. This adds or drops signals carried on specific wavelengths of light at the places where they are wanted along the optical data communications line. Others would be provisioning switches, optically reconfigurable communications networks, power limiters, and variable attenuators and wavelength-division multiplexed signal equalizers.

Clearly, Bell Labs takes MEMS seriously as a key technology for optical systems and devices. MEMS devices are small and cheap, they are fabricated like chips, easily scalable to large numbers of devices, can be integrated with analog and digital circuits, are robust and long-lived, and very functional. The small mechanical devices are a very good match to optics in scale, price, and manufacturing environments.

The seesaw switch would share attractive characteristics with other MEMS devices. It would be less than 1 mm in size, work at a 100 ns to 1 s speed, work at electrostatic energy levels, and cost somewhere in the $1 a chip range. The seesaw switch adds to a growing MEMS components catalog. We also have, at least in labs, MEMS data modulators, variable attenuators, optical choppers, an attenuator ribbon, an optical shutter, a light actuated switch, a variable attenuator, and switch arrays.

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