Tech Briefs

Next-Generation Microshutter Arrays for Large-Format Imaging and Spectroscopy

A next-generation microshutter array, LArge Microshutter Array (LAMA), was developed as a multi-object field selector. LAMA consists of small-scaled microshutter arrays that can be combined to form large-scale microshutter array mosaics. Microshutter actuation is accomplished via electrostatic attraction between the shutter and a counter electrode, and 2D addressing can be accomplished by applying an electrostatic potential between a row of shutters and a column, orthogonal to the row, of counter electrodes. Microelectromechanical system (MEMS) technology is used to fabricate the microshutter arrays.

The main feature of the microshutter device is to use a set of standard surface micromachining processes for device fabrication. Electrostatic actuation is used to eliminate the need for macromechanical magnet actuating components. A simplified electrostatic actuation with no macro components (e.g. moving magnets) required for actuation and latching of the shutters will make the microshutter arrays robust and less prone to mechanical failure. Smaller-size individual arrays will help to increase the yield and thus reduce the cost and improve robustness of the fabrication process. Reducing the size of the individual shutter array to about one square inch and building the large-scale mosaics by tiling these smaller-size arrays would further help to reduce the cost of the device due to the higher yield of smaller devices.

The LAMA development is based on prior experience acquired while developing microshutter arrays for the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), but it will have different features. The LAMA modular design permits large-format mosaicking to cover a field of view at least 50 times larger than JWST MSA. The LAMA electrostatic, instead of magnetic, actuation enables operation cycles at least 100 times faster and a mass significantly smaller compared to JWST MSA. Also, standard surface micromachining technology will simplify the fabrication process, increasing yield and reducing cost.

This work was done by Samuel Moseley, Alexander Kutyrev, Ari Brown, and Mary Li of Goddard Space Flight Center. GSC-16000-1

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