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Microshutter Array Fiber Optics by Erik Fong, Nick Perlaky, Atherton Mook, Hays Mook

In a world which relies on computers and faces rapid globalization, fast data-transfer is nessary for continuous growth. Currently, the fastest possible method by which to send data is through fiber optic cables. Current fiber optic technology uses one LED per fiber optic cable. Though, LEDs cannot be constructed small enough to fit many fiber optic cables into a small space, therefore fiber optic data transfer rates are limited by the sheer size of the cables.

A method by which to increase data transfer speeds is the utilization of a microshutter array as a fiber optic bus. Upwards of thousands of fifty micron in diameter or smaller fiber lines can be fed by a single LED using this system. Each line has a corresponding microshutter which, when actuated, allows for light to travel through that line.

The microshutter array consists of a group of magnetically actuated shutters that measure 100 by 200 microns in size. Currently, this array is used by the JWST alongside infrared sensors to view different stars more clearly. The array operates by filtering light out of all but a very small cross section of the JWST's field of view.

Our method of fiber optic communication uses only one LED, thus a bundle of thousands of fibers can be fit into an extremely small space. This method increases information transfer density by several orders of magnitude and makes fast communication routes less time-consuming and less expensive to build. More importantly, the receiving end has a photo transistor which corresponds with each fiber cable so that the right data is received by the right interface and the need for different interfaces between existing routers/computers and fiber cables does not need to be developed. The only constraint on data transfer is the need to speed up the actuation time of the shutters on the array.

JWST Microshutter Array

Traditional Fiber Optic Bundle

Decision Rubric: Using a 5-point scale, our five brainstorming ideas were vetted and ranked. From this, we chose the Fiber Optic upgrade. To see scales and further information, please click the paper clip icon in the upper right corner.


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