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Olympus, Japan

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Olympus is reorganizing and expanding its Nagano MEMS foundry to produce MEMS on 4in and 6in wafers, with the future capability to handle 8in. The expansion also increases Olympus' facilities for MEMS assembly with an increased priority and focus on research and development.

The foundry is located in Nagano Prefecture and is undergoing a $25 million expansion over three years. The assembly facility is being increased by 30% over its previous 1,600m² of clean room space.

The company designs, prototypes, manufactures and packages MEMS for optical networking, biotech, medical, and industrial applications. It also provides MEMS chips for VOA (variable optical attenuators), and small port (1x2 for example) and large port optical switches for optical cross connects.


MEMS is a core technology for Olympus, and the company has researched and developed MEMS and MEMS-related products for over ten years. In 1989, it began developing atomic force microscope cantilevers and has since pursued optical MEMS development of other devices such as image sensors, photo sensors, BiCMOS and optical scanners.

The company participated in the decade-long Micromachine Project, which began in 1991 and concluded in the spring of 2001. This involved developing micromachines to perform diagnostics, inspections and repairs in the tiny spaces inside humans and machines. Some of the results of the project include small diameter, active bending microcatheters tipped with multiple silicon piezoelectric MEMS pressure sensors and diagnostic tactile sensors.

In April 2006, Olympus and Movaz Networks announced a joint venture company, Olympus Microsystems America, Inc., which will develop, manufacture and market MEMS based technologies and products for optical equipment suppliers worldwide. The first jointly developed product was a MEMS-based Wavelength Selective Switch (WSS) for Reconfigurable Optical Add Drop Modules (ROADM). The company will develop new products, technology, and markets with a focus on MEMS-based activities including ROADM products, Variable Optical Attenuators (VOA), small switches, Optical Cross Connects (OXC), aspheric lenses, and tunable filters.


Olympus can integrate control electronics, optics and mechanics into MEMS-based systems. Capabilities begin with front end wafer processing and can incorporate back end flip chip and wire bonding procedures. The company can supply components like micro cantilevers for an AFM, or MEMS scanning mirrors for a confocal microscope systems.

Olympus' MEMS technology is focused on bulk micromachining processes. These form structures by removing portions of the substrate (thicker substrates lead to greater heights), and is popular for optical and wireless switching. The company remarks that these are more robust than surface methods (which builds up/removes layers selectively, but leaving the bulk substrate untouched) for many applications.

A major application is for aspheric lenses used in fibreoptic communications. These are used for light collimation and focusing between laser diode and single mode fiber, such as in high-speed laser transmitters and high power pumping lasers. The lenses are small, but have high light collecting efficiency and excellent thermal stability. Olympus' process can integrate light dispersion components with optical switching components, for higher functional integration in fiber optic components like reconfigurable add/drop.

Anti-reflective coatings can be added to aspherical lenses, and lenses can have numerical aperture (NA) from 0.5 to 0.7 with diameters from 1.5mm to 2.5mm (working distances are from 0.8mm to 0.9mm). These work in high power applications like high power pumping lasers for Raman pumping.

Resonant scanning frequencies of around 4kHz allow fast image acquisition in optical scanners. Processes can incorporate single-crystal silicon hinges with excellent durability (for example used in optical scanners).

Products can use advanced materials like polyimide. The company can package MEMS for flip chip applications and other low temperature processes.


In February 2002, Olympus launched the Olympus's MEMS Foundry Services, including design engineering, prototyping and small-lot production services. The MEMS foundry offers partner companies access to micro-fabrication and micro-assembly technology.

The company has developed an inkjet printer head with Fuji Xerox Co. Ltd. Besides developing customized products, Olympus can supply off the shelf products, 1D and 2D mirror devices for optical cross connects and portable scanners; and MEMS chips for variable optical attenuators and small port count switches. In recent years, Olympus has developed both preprocessing free-flow modules for separating DNA and protein as microfluidics and a probe that can be used to measure protein power by applying atomic force microscope cantilevers to biotechnology. Olympus also provides support in IC design and electronics for integrating optical products into customer systems.

The company offers access to its advanced equipment and test capabilities for atomic force microscope probe tips and cantilevers, image sensors, photo sensors, BiCMOS, active bending microcatheters, diagnostic tactile sensors, free-flow modules and protein power measurement.


Olympus Partnership Development Group (PDG), San Jose, CA, was formed in October 2001 and is part of the R&D division of Olympus Corporation, Tokyo, Japan. Its primary mission is to represent Olympus' MEMS foundry business and MEMS chip products. It was established to accelerate the success of partner companies through technology and business alliances. PDG also provides access to Olympus resources in R&D, engineering, precision manufacturing from prototyping to ramp up, sales, marketing, distribution and financial investment.

Olympus is a member of the Micro/Nanofabrication Technology Foundry Network System Concept Fact Finding Committee made up of nine universities and laboratories and 13 corporations.