Over the past decade, a number of electrostatically-actuated MEMS deformable mirror devices have been used for adaptive control in beam-forming and imaging applications. One architecture that has been widely used is the silicon device developed by Boston University, consisting of a continuous or segmented mirror supported by post attachments to an array of parallel plate electrostatic actuators. MEMS deformable mirrors and segmented mirrors with up to 1024 of these actuators have been used in open loop and closed loop control systems to control wavefront errors. Frame rates as high as 11kHz have been demonstrated.
Mechanically, the actuators used in this device exhibit a first-mode resonant frequency that is in the range of many tens of kilohertz up to a few hundred kilohertz. Viscous air damping has been found to limit operation at such high frequencies in air at standard pressure. Some applications in high-speed tracking and beam-forming could benefit from increased speed.
In this paper, several approaches to achieving critically-damped performance with such MEMS DMs are detailed, and theoretical and experimental results are presented. One approach is to seal the MEMS DM in a full or partial vacuum environment, thereby affecting air damping. After vacuum sealing the device's predicted resonant behavior at tens of kilohertz was observed. In vacuum, the actuator's intrinsic material damping is quite small, resulting in considerable oscillation in step response. To alleviate this problem, a two-step actuation algorithm was employed. Precise control of a single actuator frequencies up to 100kHz without overshoot was demonstrated using this approach. Another approach to increasing actuation speed was to design actuators that reduce air damping effects. This is also demonstrated in the paper.