Abstract

One of the most expensive and time-consuming production processes for single-mode fiber-optic components is the alignment of the photonic chip or waveguide to the fiber. The alignment equipment is capital intensive and usually requires trained technicians to achieve desired results. Current technology requires active alignment since tolerances are only ~0.2 ยต m or less for a typical laser diode. This is accomplished using piezoelectric actuated stages and active optical feedback. Joining technologies such as soldering, epoxy bonding, or laser welding may contribute significant postbond shift, and final coupling efficiencies are often less than 80%. This paper presents a method of adaptive optical alignment to freeze in place directly on an optical submount using a microelectromechanical system (MEMS) shape memory alloy (SMA) actuation technology. Postbond shift is eliminated since the phase change is the alignment actuation. This technology is not limited to optical alignment but can be applied to a variety of MEMS actuations, including nano-actuation and nano-alignment for biomedical applications. Experimental proof-of-concept results are discussed, and a simple analytical model is proposed to predict the stress strain behavior of the optical submount. Optical coupling efficiencies and alignment times are compared with traditional processes. The feasibility of this technique in high-volume production is discussed.

© 2005 IEEE

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