Revolutionising optical systems: INL’s cutting-edge micro-mirror technology

July 31, 2023

Micro mirrors with large two-dimensional fields of view are a crucial breakthrough for achieving compact optical systems capable of reliable light manipulation, powering revolutionary applications like LIDAR and laser microscopy.

INL researchers, in collaboration with the University of Minho and Bosch, have developed ground-breaking 1D and 2D micro-mirror technology using state-of-the-art MEMS (Micro Electronic Mechanical Systems) silicon-on-insulator (SOI)-based bulk micromachining. Impressively, neither complex bonding processes nor piezoelectric materials are needed to fabricate these mirrors, paving the way for more efficient and cost-effective solutions.

The developed micro-mirrors feature purely electrostatic torsional out-of-plane actuation and capacitive sensing on both axes. “The unique self-aligned greyscale lithography micromachining process developed at INL, reduces gap tolerances and boosts performance by defining the vertical asymmetry of the comb electrodes with precision”, explains Inês Garcia, one of the leading researchers responsible for the success of the project.

This technology has already made strides in LIDAR prototypes for automotive applications, but the potential does not end there. Diogo Aguiam adds “we are excited about the prospects of its implementation in compact laser microscopy and laser projection, opening up new horizons in scientific research and entertainment”.