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News Archive 2001 - 2010

Chiao Receives Patent on MEMS Optical Device

March 10, 2005

Electrical Engineering Associate Professor Jung-Chih Chiao of The University of Texas at Arlington’s College of Engineering has received U.S. Patent 6,850,353 for his MEMS Optical Components. His process features the low-cost manufacturing of multi-wavelength filters through self assembly.

The invention relates generally to optical networks; in particular, MEMS (micro-electro-mechanical system) optical components that are integrated together to form an optical device used in an optical network. These MEMS optical components are monolithically fabricated and self assembled on the chip and, in some cases, reconfigurable or moveable on the chip. Current multi-wavelength filters are assembled by hand and are expensive.

Dr. Chiao initially developed the process to advance the telecommunications industry, especially the dense wavelength division multiplexing (DWDM) optical communication. However, the growth of the industry came to a virtual standstill during the time his patent application was being processed. Dr. Chiao investigated other optical applications that require multiplexing of different color lights. One of the potential uses for the devices is hyperspectral imaging in medical or homeland security applications.

Different wavelengths of light penetrate or scatter human tissues differently. With both spatial and spectral information, subtle abnormalities such as cancer cells could be detected. Multi- wavelengths can also be used to detect the presence of different bio-organism or chemical elements, as each gives off a distinct color when illuminated by light of a specific wavelength. The technique could also be applied to food/fruit quality assessment, noninvasive monitoring of structure (airplanes, buildings, bridges), health and intelligent imaging informatics.