Actuation of MEMS by light: An optical actuator

Marc Sulfridge, Norman Miller, Taher Saif, Keith O'Hara

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


This paper presents experimental evidence that MEMS devices may be manipulated using beams of light. Light possesses momentum, and hence it imparts a force equal to 2W/c when perfectly reflected by a surface. Here W is the total power of the reflected light, and c is the speed of light. The radiation pressure of light can be quite significant to MEMS devices. This actuation method is demonstrated, both in air and in vacuum, by switching the state of a bi-stable MEMS device. The associated heat transfer model is also presented.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMicro-Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS) - 2001
EditorsA.L. Lee, J. Simon, K. Breuer, S. Chen, R.S. Keynton, A. Malshe, J.-I. Mou, M. Dunn
Number of pages7
StatePublished - 2001
Event2001 ASME International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition - New York, NY, United States
Duration: Nov 11 2001Nov 16 2001

Publication series

NameAmerican Society of Mechanical Engineers, Micro-Electromechanical Systems Division Publication (MEMS)


Other2001 ASME International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityNew York, NY

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering


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