Agere Systems announces MEMS-based optical switch component

Feb. 26, 2001
Feb. 26, 2001--Agere Systems, the former Microelectronics Group of Lucent Technologies, announced a fully integrated, three-dimensional (3D) microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) optical switch component that will be marketed to makers of optical networking systems.

Agere Systems, the former Microelectronics Group of Lucent Technologies (NYSE: LU), announced a fully integrated, three-dimensional (3D) microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) optical switch component that will be marketed to makers of optical networking systems. It offers 64 input and 64 output ports in a small form-factor, and contains the control electronics needed to form a self-contained subsystem - permitting quick integration into optical networking system designs.

Designed to be in the core of all-optical cross connects and add/drop multiplexers, the 5200 series MEMS switch module uses a scalable, 3D architecture developed by researchers at Lucent Technologies' Bell Labs to manipulate optical signals without the need to convert the signals to electrical form. It is the first in a family of small-form-factor optical switch modules that will be offered by Agere Systems. The new small form factor package measures approximately 9" x 10" x 4".

MEMS are integrated Microsystems that add moving mechanical parts to traditional electronics on a silicon chip. In Agere Systems' product, the mechanical parts are tiny mirrors that reflect optical signals from incoming ports to any desired output port. MEMS technology offers low signal loss, which can result in improved transmission distances and lowered systems costs for manufacturers. MEMS switches are targeted at network cores and nodes in both long-haul and metro area networks.

Unlike many two-dimensional MEMS switch architectures - which simply raise or lower "pop-up" mirrors at fixed angles to switch a signal to a certain port - Agere Systems' optical switch module features a 3D beam-steering architecture. Signals are directed to an array of dual-axis mirrors that can be tilted in multiple positions, bouncing an incoming signal off one of these mirrors to another dual-axis mirror and finally to the designated output port. This architecture promotes lower signal loss variation than two- dimensional designs.

MEMS technology supports scalability by allowing any data rate or transmission protocol to travel across the switch. Agere Systems' 3D offering also includes control electronics to manipulate the mirrors in the switch module. Closed-loop embedded control electronics also maintain the quality of the connections over different operating conditions. Connections to the control electronics can be made using a simple digital serial or parallel interface via a 68-pin SCSI-type electrical connector.

Once spun off from Lucent, Agere Systems will have the technology and facilities for MEMS manufacturing. Agere expects to continue to grow this effort as the MEMS market continues to expand.

Sample quantities will be available to optical networking systems manufacturers in the second calendar quarter of 2001, with production quantities expected by the third quarter of 2001.

About Agere Systems:

Agere Systems Inc., formerly known as the Microelectronics Group of Lucent Technologies, is a developer of semiconductors for communications applications, offering integrated optoelectronics and integrated circuits solutions to help customers reduce the time and expense of developing new communications equipment. For more information, visit

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