Research Spotlight Archive
Title: Advanced MEMS High-Voltage Multiplexing System for Optical Imaging
Participants: Rob Sumner (MS ’12) and Preston Miller (EE ’11); Professor Mark Horenstein
Funding: NASA with Boston Micromachines, Inc.
Background: Optical communication and adaptive optics have emerged as important uses of micro-electromechanical (MEMS) devices based on electrostatic actuation. These applications involve the use of a mirror whose surface profile can be altered by applying voltages of up to 300 V.
Description: Our work at Boston University supports NASA’s effort in coronagraphical imaging, whereby a telescope system blocks the direct light from a distant star so that nearby objects such as planets, which would otherwise be hidden in the star’s bright glare, can be resolved.
Results: We have developed a key component of the system: a 144-channel, high-voltage multiplexer that reduces power consumption to only a few hundred milliwatts, a factor of 100 lower than conventional designs. This electrostatic voltage driver, which is scalable to a ~1000 actuator system, is thus compatible with the low-power requirements of space-based applications.