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What is MEMS?


Microelectromechanical Systems (MEMS) is a technology that allows the fabrication of miniature mechanical and electro-mechanical devices using silicon fabrication techniques. Since they are fabricated with the same techniques used to create semiconductor ICs, it is possible to manufacture different MEMS structures reliably and cost effectively. MEMS systems are found in a variety of fields including sensors, RF timing, microfluidics and mirrors for optical signal processing.

What is MEMS Mirror Steering?


Given the proliferation of lasers in many applications, mirrors are a growing market for MEMS technology. MEMS mirror steering uses a MEMS-based mirror to deflect a laser beam in both static and dynamic operations. Static operation requires the mirror to deflect to a known angle accurately and maintain the angle almost indefinitely without significant drift. Dynamic operation requires the mirror to be able to track a programmed path accurately with fast response and high resolution.

MEMS mirror steering is found in the following applications:

  • Optical networks: MEMS mirrors are used in fiber-to-fiber optical switching
  • Projection displays: Head-up displays and laser projectors (pico projectors)
  • Automotive safety and autonomous vehicles: Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR), laser headlamps
  • AR/VR: Tracking and position measurement
  • 3D printing
Watch this video to view our demonstration from CES featuring MEMS-enabling technology.

What Does a Typical MEMS Mirror System Look Like?


MEMS mirrors typically need a high-voltage driver IC to control the position of the mirror. For example, a typical MEMS mirror would need drive voltages in the range of 200V–300V. The high-voltage mirror driver would get its input from a microcontroller or FPGA in the system, which is responsible for determining the drive voltages that need to be applied. The same microcontroller also controls the laser diode driver to synchronize the operation of the laser diode and the mirror. A high-resolution Digital-to-Analog Converter (DAC) is used to interface the digital output of the controller to the analog input of the amplifier. The requirements of the DAC depend on the resolution and speed requirements of the system. A photo diode can be used for feedback in case of closed-loop systems.

MEMS Mirror Steering Application Challenges


There are multiple blocks that are needed to implement a MEMS mirror steering system successfully:

  • To enable fast computation based on feedback signals, the main controller must be capable of processing data at high speeds. It also needs to have Analog-to-Digital Converters (ADCs) with high sampling rates to collect the feedback signal with sufficient resolution. It also requires sufficient memory to allow a larger number of samples to be stored and processed.
  • The DAC should also have sufficient speed and resolution to enable the control of the mirror with high speed and precision.
  • The high-voltage driver needs to amplify a low-voltage DAC output to the high voltages required to operate the mirror. Typical voltages needed to operate a MEMS mirror are in the range of 200–300V. The amplifier should also have high bandwidth and slew rates for fast steering in dynamic operation, as well as a low drift to maintain mirror position for static operations. 
  • The high-voltage power supply has to generate 200–300V DC voltages from a very low input voltage (for example, 3.3V for a Li-ion battery-based pico projector). Since these applications are usually space constrained, the overall solution has to have a small form factor.
  • The laser driver needs to change the intensity of the laser at the pixel rate to project high-resolution images. This can be quite fast for applications like HDMI video. The driver takes parallel digital data from the external interface and converts this into a controlled analog current for the laser, synchronized with the horizontal and vertical scanning of the MEMS.

MEMS Laser Demo Available:

Introducing the Laser Demo-01, a development tool created by MEMS mirror supplier Mirrorcle Technologies, Inc. featuring control and drive electronics from Microchip Technology, Inc. 

 The development tool provides a means of evaluating laser beam steering technology, while enabling solutions development for many different consumer, industrial, automotive, and other applications.

Featured Products


HV56264

The HV56264 is an AEC-Q100 rated quad high-voltage amplifier array integrated circuit. It operates on a 225V high-voltage supply and a 5.0V low-voltage supply.

  • Four independent high-voltage amplifiers (225 VOUT swing)
  • 11 V/µs typical slew rate (CLOAD = 15 pF)
  • Adjustable gain by off-chip high-voltage resistors
  • AEC-Q100 Grade 1 qualified
  • Operating temperature (TJ) Range: −40°C to +125°C

HV265

The HV265 is a four-channel high-voltage operational amplifier gate array with an optional internal feedback resistor network.

  • Four independent high-voltage amplifiers (205 VOUT swing)
  • 0.02 V/µs minimum output slew rate for CLOAD to 200 pF (and ZOUT < 1 kOhm)
  • Fixed gain of 82 V/V, 30 kHz gain-bandwidth product
  • High-value internal feedback SiCr resistors to set gain (if internal gain set used)

HV264

HV264 is a quad high-voltage amplifier array integrated circuit. It operates on a 225V high-voltage supply and a 5.0V low-voltage supply. It has optional internal gain set resistors.

  • Four independent high-voltage amplifiers (215 VOUT swing)
  • 9.0 V/µs typical output slew rate
  • Fixed gain of 66.7 V/V
  • Operating temperature (TJ) Range: −40°C to +125°C

HV9150

The HV9150 is a high-output voltages hysteretic mode step up DC/DC controller that has both a built-in charge pump converter and a linear regulator for a wide range of input voltage. The charge pump converter mode is ideal for battery-powered applications.

  • Low input voltage: 2.7V
  • Wide output voltage range: 6V to 500V
  • 5W maximum output power with external MOSFET driver
  • Built-in charge pump converter for the gate driver

MCP1633

The MCP1633 high-speed PWM controller is a pulse-width modulator developed for stand-alone power supply applications. It can be used as a boost converter for generating the high-voltage supply needed by High-Voltage (HV) drivers.

  • Input voltage range: 3V to 5.5V
  • Undervoltage lockout circuit
  • Output overvoltage protection
  • Output short circuit protection
  • Overtemperature protection
  • Small 16-pin QFN in 3 × 3 mm package

PIC32MZ Controller

  • 32-bit MCU performance with up to 252 MHz/415 DMIPS
  • Up to 2 MB Flash and 512 KB RAM
  • 12-bit ADC @18 Msps, up to 48 channels
  • Full-featured hardware crypto engine
  • MPLAB® Harmony - a comprehensive, interoperable software development framework for PIC32 MCUs