Digital MEMs Amplitude and Phase Control of an Optical Wavefront

Brief Description:
This concept enables the generation of an arbitrary optical wavefront digitally, using  binary MEMS micro-mirror chips, which are commercially available from the display industry.

The method can be used in an active optics mode  to change a wavefront on demand and hold it steady, for such applications optical metrology for lens inspection. It can also be used in an adaptive optics mode to correct a rapidly changing distorted optical wavefront into a plane wave, or conversely converting a plane wave into an arbitrarily varying output wavefront.  Adaptive optics is used today to correct for atmospheric turbulence in astronomical telescopes and in lasercom (laser communication links between aircraft, ships and the ground). It is also used to correct for dynamic changes in optical systems such as a high energy laser fusion system, and to correct for the aberrations in the human eye in ophthalmologic imaging.

The digital” control of the wavefront is obtained using robust binary micro-mirror MEMS arrays, in a novel interferometric configuration, in place of the more limited “analog” deformable membrane mirrors or liquid crystal phase screen devices.  Deformable membrane mirrors can suffer from hysteresis, repeatability and have a limited degree of freedom, which limit the resolution of the optical wavefront correction. The advantages of the new solution flow from the utilization of the ‘commodity” binary micro-mirror chips, which are now in large scale production at Texas Instruments (TI) for high quality imaging for digital cinema theater and television display. The digital mirrors have low unit cost (for both the MEMS device itself and the drive electronics), high resolution, high data rate and high reliability, resulting from decades of engineering.

URV Reference Number: 2-11150-06031
Patent Information:
Title Country Patent No. Issued Date
Digital Binary MEMs Wavefront Control United States 8,379,292 2/19/2013
Digital Binary MEMs Wavefront Control United States 8,634,126 1/21/2014
For Information, Contact:
Curtis Broadbent
Licensing Manager
University of Rochester
Nicholas George
Kedar Khare