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Latching Micro Optical Switch

Latching Switch For Optical Fibers

Sandia National Laboratories

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SEM Image of Latching Mechanism
SEM Image of Latching Mechanism

Latching Micro Optical Switch with 3 Linear Actuators
Latching Micro Optical Switch with 3 Linear Actuators

Technology Marketing Summary

Sandia National Laboratories has developed a latching switch for optical fibers. One or more fibers are moved by an actuator between two positions, off and on. In the off position, two fiber ends are not aligned and light does not pass from the first fiber to the second. In the on position, the ends of two fibers are precisely aligned to make a low-loss optical connection. 


The fibers are robustly held in place by mechanical latches in both positions to prevent them from unintentional movement due to shock and vibration. Power is not required to hold the fibers in either position. The power required to switch between on and off is low due to the micro-fabrication techniques used to create the linear actuator that aligns the fibers and the latching mechanism. Micro-fabrication also results in a small switch that will have many commercial and defense applications.

  • Smaller Scale
  • Reduced Cost
  • Withstands severe mechanical environments
  • Can be fabricated using a variety of techniques, including DRIE, LIGA or other bulk micromachining
Applications and Industries
  • Aircraft and Aerospace
  • Communications
  • Electronics
  • Industrial Machinery
  • Medical Devices
  • Microelectronics
  • Transportation and Automotive
Patents and Patent Applications
ID Number
Title and Abstract
Primary Lab
Patent 8,447,148
Latching micro optical switch
An optical switch reliably maintains its on or off state even when subjected to environments where the switch is bumped or otherwise moved. In addition, the optical switch maintains its on or off state indefinitely without requiring external power. External power is used only to transition the switch from one state to the other. The optical switch is configured with a fixed optical fiber and a movable optical fiber. The movable optical fiber is guided by various actuators in conjunction with a latching mechanism that configure the switch in one position that corresponds to the on state and in another position that corresponds to the off state.
Sandia National Laboratories 05/21/2013
Technology Status
Technology IDDevelopment StageAvailabilityPublishedLast Updated
SD# 10808Development - Sandia estimates this technology to have a technology readiness level of approximately 4. Key elements of this technology have been demonstrated in laboratory environments.Available - For more information or to discuss licensing opportunities, contact the Intellectual Property department.11/27/201311/27/2013

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