Thermal actuators are integrated with mechanically flexible waveguide beams to enable positioning them with high precision. By adding a poly-Si pattern on top of SiO2 beams, an out-of-plane bimorph actuator can be realized. An analytical model enables estimating the curvature and the deflection of a single bimorph beam. Acquiring a small initial deflection while having a large motion range of the actuator proves to have conflicting demands on the poly-Si/SiO2 thickness ratio.
In this paper, we show that suspended waveguide arrays with integrated alignment functionality have an initial deflection- they curl up- due to residual stress in the materials. The actuators can be operated using a driving voltage between 0V to 45V, corresponding to ~50mW. Using higher voltages brings the risk of permanently changing the material properties of the heaters. The actuators can accomplish an out-of-plane crossbar translation up to 6.5 μm at ~50mW as well as a rotation around the propagation direction of the light ranging from -0:1° to 0.1°. At a constant actuation power of ~50mW, the crossbar shows a drift in vertical deflection of 0.16 μm over a time of 30 min.