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  • New Applications Will Spur MEMS Growth
Jul 2003
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz., July 1 -- Sales of optical microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) into segments other than telecommunications are forecast to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 15.8 percent over the next five years, according to a report by market research firm In-Stat/MDR.

"Even though the bursting of the telecom bubble has greatly diminished commercial expectation for optical MEMS, the technology has found significant traction in an increasing number of applications, from LASIK eye surgery to the Oscars," the company said. "Optical MEMS are well-suited to products that demand high-quality imaging and/or utilize lasers and where their small form factor can open the door to new market opportunities."

"Over the course of the past year, many of those developing MEMS–based telecom solutions have made a last-ditch effort to capture more immediate opportunities in other markets because optical networking applications have slipped beyond reach for the near future," said Marlene Bourne, a senior analyst with In-Stat/MDR. "However, as these companies quickly discovered, it is not as easy as it might seem at first glance."

Although next-generation imaging systems and optical networking both use MEMS mirrors, the architectures required for displays are different than those used for optical switching, she said, and companies involved in optical MEMS for non-telecom applications are very different from those involved in optical networking.

In-Stat/MDR said the biggest application for optical MEMS is a variety of display subsystems, including those that are portable, integrated and wearable. Other areas benefiting from these devices include bar code scanning, adaptive optics systems and commercial printing, to name a few.

Much of the real movement of optical MEMS into markets beyond telecom has occurred only very recently, the company said, and while mirror arrays have made a splash, deformable mirrors and micro lens arrays have been
quietly moving into the market.

The report, "Optical MEMS: Light Speed Ahead," which costs $2,995, examines the most promising commercial non-telecom possibilities for optical MEMS and the many applications in which these devices have already gained a foothold.

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