LONDON – Si-Ware Systems Ltd., a fabless chip and design service company, has announced its SiMOST platform for the creation of single-chip optical systems.
SiMOST stands for Silicon integrated Micro Optical System and it allows the integration of MEMS optical elements to create custom structures. Multiple optical MEMS structures can be patterned and etched on silicon-on-insulator (SOI) wafers using Deep Reactive Ion Etching (DRIE). The structures are then wafer level packaged and diced to create a one-chip optical system, the company said.
Si-Ware (Cairo, Egypt) has created a library of building blocks for the platform. Optical components include flat, cylindrical and spherical collimating mirrors; wide bandwidth beam-splitters; optical filters; and moving corner cube reflectors. MEMS components include long-travel range micro-actuators and micro-motors. The components are lithographically aligned on-chip.
The company did not indicate where it is getting SiMOST designs manufactured except to say it is a foundry partner in France. "MEMS dies are typically a few millimeters each side. We can make it larger of course," said Bassam Saadany, manager of the MEMS division at Si-Ware.
Si-Ware has already used the SiMOST system to create a monolithic infrared spectrometer and swept laser source. Such optical MEMS monolithic workbench ICs can be complemented with electronic interface and control ICs developed by Si-Ware's ASIC solutions division, the company said. These interface and control ASICs handle the MEMS control, current, voltage and capacitive sensing, data conversion via ADC/DAC, and data processing.
"For the first time an optical designer has the freedom to design very complex systems with as many components as necessary with no impact on cost of assembly and bill of materials," said Saadany, in a statement. "With SiMOST optical systems can achieve economies of scale that are similar to the micro-electronics industry in terms of size and cost, which opens up a range of applications and market opportunities."
Si-Ware employs about 70 people working across a broad range of technologies including analog, RF and digital electronics as well as MEMS.
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For a fact, Saadany's quote in the last paragraph isn't the usual hype. Optical designs seem to have exponentially increasing cost curves as components are added, with the result that performance compromises are required to get anywhere near a price point. The result is sometimes mediocre performance, but sometimes the design just can't be produced economically. I'd like to see some of these designs, just out of curiosity, since I don't have any optical design issues at the moment.