Research/MEMS Microshutters for Infrared Astronomical Observatory

2008-05-09 (金) 01:39:34 (5168d)

MEMS Shutter Arrays for Astronotical Telescope Application


What do you think if you hear a micro mechanical device can be used for astronautic scale application? It is actually going to be used in the infrared telescope system. Observing the Doppler shift of deep galaxies gives the distance to them from Earth, and is the very important step to understand the history of the universe. One may need to observe thousands of galaxies to make statistical analysis but it is very costly.

In the conventional infrared astronautic observation, starlights from galaxies are guided to a bundle of optical fibers and fed to multichannel optical spectroscope. Such optical fibers are plugged into a metal disk with slits that are drilled in the shape of constellation. We are going to replace such metal slit with our micromechanical shutter array for the convenience of measurement at reduced measurement cost and time.

Electrostatic Microshutter Mechanism


The mechanism of the MEMS shutter is similar to that of the fiber optic matrix switch; it was our first demonstration of MEMS device in 1995. A shutter blade is supported with a pair of thin torsion bars and is electrostatically operated by the applied voltage. The shutter blade is suspended over a through hole made in the silicon substrate.

Operation Results


We have so far developed a sub-unit cell of 3x10 shutter matrix. Hundreds of such sub-unit will be then assembled into a large matrix upwards of 8,000 elements. We are currently investigating the low temperature (liquid nitrogen) and vacuum operation to study the compatibility with the cooled infrared spectroscope.


  1. T. Takahashi, M. Mita, K. Motohara, N. Kobayashi, N. Kashikawa, H. Fujita, and H. Toshiyoshi, "Electrostatically Addressable Gatefold Micro-shutter Arrays for Astronomical Infrared Spectrograph," Proc. Asia Pacific Conference on Transducers and Micro-Nano Technology, June 25-28, 2006, Marina-Mandarin Hotel, Singapore.