Abstract

A design method is proposed for variable optical attenuators (VOAs), aiming at linear attenuation–voltage characteristics, and verified by finite element analysis. Devices of interest are planar VOAs based on microelectromechanical systems technology, with either a knife-edge shutter or a reflector. The proposed method calculates the shape of the fingers of the comb-drive actuators that are used to move the optical component (shutter or reflector) to change the attenuation level. The calculation is, in effect, tantamount to solving a differential equation that encompasses the optical model of the device, electromechanical behavior of the actuators, and the objective of the design, i.e., linear attenuation–voltage characteristics. The design method is almost all-analytical with minimum usage of numerical analysis. The obtained designs are further examined by three-dimensional finite element analysis to understand their effectiveness and to probe the validity of the approximations used. The best linearity factor (defined as % deviation from the ideal case) obtained is 1.34% for both shutter- and reflection-type devices when the conditions are set as 1-dB insertion loss and 50-dB maximum attenuation.

© 2020 Optical Society of America

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