MEMS Variable Optical Attenuators

DiCon's MEMS Variable Optical Attenuators (VOA) allow for the automated, fine-tune control of the attenuation level in an optical system. These optical attenuators use an ultra-stable and reliable single-axis MEMS mirror to reflect the light that is collected and collimated from the input fiber to direct it to the output fiber. A precise level of attenuation is achieved by partially misaligning the light being coupled to the output fiber.


Advantages of DiCon's MEMS VOA

  • High Quality and Reliability

  • Excellent Optical Performance

  • Lifetime > 1 Billion Cycles

  • Proven DiCon MEMS Mirror Technology

DiCon's MEMS Mirror Technology

DiCon’s patented core MEMS mirror technology enables DiCon to offer high quality, long life variable optical attenuators. This technology was developed in DiCon’s in-house MEMS fabrication facility, which enabled DiCon to iterate and perfect the MEMS mirror design over many generations.

DiCon’s MEMS mirror technology is based on a single-crystalline silicon construction that does not deform, fatigue or wear out over time. The mirror (the octagonal area in the middle of the chip) is tilted by applying a voltage to the electrostatic comb-finger actuators that extend to either side of the mirror. The moving parts of the structure, including the mirror and half of the comb-fingers in the actuators, are connected to the fixed parts of the structure via silicon torsion beams. Thus, the moving parts of the structure are affectively suspended in space, and never come into physical contact with the fixed parts of the structure. The mirror tilts over a continuous range of motion, with a highly repeatable tilt angle as a function of the applied voltage.

1-Axis VOA MEMS Mirror

DiCon Fiberoptics’ advanced MEMS mirror technology, combined with tight process control and a focus on continuous improvement, allows DiCon to offer high quality, long life variable optical attenuators, which are available as components, modules or rackmount units, as shown below.

MEMS Variable Optical Attenuator (VOA) – Component

DiCon Fiberoptics’ MEMS VOA components are the most advanced and proven optical attenuator available, with large volumes of components deployed and in use in demanding telecommunications, biomedical and other applications. They offer excellent optical performance, high reliability, and a very long lifetime. MEMS VOAs can be built with a variety of fiber types such as SMF-28, HI1060, PM980, 780HP, PM780, 630HP, PM630 and 460HP.

MEMS Variable Optical Attenuator

MEMS Variable Optical Attenuator - Module

DiCon Fiberoptics offers a module that can be built with one to eight MEMS VOAs, with control through a single RS-232 or I2C interface. For RS-232 controlled modules, DiCon offers an optional cable kit.

Optionally, tap detectors can be added to the outputs of the VOAs so that the power can be monitored. This module is referred to as a Dynamic Power Equalizer (DPE), as this module can be operated in a closed loop mode, whereby the power reading from the tap detectors will dynamically adjust the VOAs so that constant output powers will be achieved.

Furthermore, adding a WDM filter and tap detector to each MEMS VOA will allow for the multiplexing or demultiplexing of up to four 100 GHz channels with integrated power equalization.

VOA Module

MEMS Variable Optical Attenuator (VOA) – Rackmount

DiCon Fiberoptics offers a MEMS Variable Optical Attenuator Rackmount solution ideal for test and measurement applications. The simple rackmount allows for either Ethernet or RS-232 control of up to eight fiber channels. Upon request it can also be built using the DPE or Mux/DeMux module.

Rackmount MEMS optical attenuator

Example of VOA Rackmount

GP750 Programmable Platform

For test & measurement applications requiring coordinated control of multiple variable optical attenuators or other optical components, DiCon Fiberoptics offers the GP750 rackmount system. This is a multi-purpose, modular, easy-to-use system able to automate DiCon’s optical attenuators, optical switches, and tunable optical filters.

GP750 Programmable Optical Platform System

Custom Optical Attenuator Solutions

DiCon Fiberoptics has extensive expertise in creating customized variable optical attenuators, using customer specified fiber, non-standard wavelengths, etc. and can offer modifications to existing products, create truly custom solutions, or integrate multiple variable optical attenuator components together to create an application specific solution. 

Please contact DiCon Fiberoptics to discuss further.