Phase Modulator

Client : Naval Research Laboratory, Washington D.C.
Industries: Defense, Security and Aerospace
Technologies: MEMS


Conventional laser beam shaping systems are generally heavy and bulky, which limits their usefulness in a number of applications (e.g., protective projectile tracking systems for military vehicles). In order to meet our client’s needs, we had to develop a small and inexpensive system to shape laser beam profiles.

  • Photo: Canadian Department of Defence
  • Detail of the mechanical structure of piston-like micromirrors
  • Array of piston-like micromirrors in packaging
  • Part of a piston-like micromirror array


We developed a 2D array of micromirrors that can be activated like pistons, which makes it possible to locally modify the phase of a laser beam and manipulate its profile and propagation properties. INO manufactured, packaged, and characterized the mirrors. It also developed control electronics and custom software to provide user-friendly interaction with the microsystem.


In its current form, the system enables the micromirror array configuration to be modified up to 30 times per second with user-defined data.

Tango of light on micromirrors

The micromirrors move over a 6 µm range with an activation voltage of slightly over 100 V. Control electronics allow users to select from 256 different positions of the micromirror within its travel range. The array includes 64 (8 x 8) micromirrors measuring 200 µm x 200 µm. These mirrors were designed for mid-infrared operation. In this spectral range, the flatness of the mirrors is roughly λ/8. The micromirrors are packaged in an inert atmosphere. A ZnSe window seals the package.

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