Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) are of increasing importance in optical systems, particularly for telecommunications applications. This paper presents a review of materials, fabrication technologies, and applications in two key areas: optoelectronic packaging and functional optical devices. In packages, the advantage of MEMS are their ability to provide accurate passive alignment features or optical surfaces at low cost. In devices, the attraction is the possibility of combining mechanical, electrical, and optical features in movable components that switch, attenuate, or filter light. These free-space components can, in many cases, out-perform their counterparts in bulk or guided wave optical formats.Components fabricated using the new discipline of MEMS are finding an increasing number of applications in sensors, devices, and actuators1,2. MEMS are being applied to a wide range of systems. Progress is dramatic, especially in optical telecommunications3. These applications may be divided roughly into two classes: i) those requiring precise features for optical alignment, and ii) those involving the small moving optical parts necessary for more advanced functionality.

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DOI: 10.1016/S1369-7021(02)00839-8