Development of microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) constitutes one of the most challenging tasks in today’s micromechanics. In addition to design, analysis, and fabrication capabilities, this task also requires advanced test methodologies for determination of functional characteristics of MEMS to enable refinement and optimization of their designs. Until recently, this characterization was hindered by lack of a readily available methodology. However, building on recent advances in photonics, electronics, and computer technology, we have developed an optoelectronic methodology particularly suitable for development of MEMS. In this paper, we describe the optoelectronic methodology and illustrate its use with representative examples. By quantitatively characterizing performance of MEMS, under different vibration, thermal, and other operating conditions, we can make specific suggestions for their improvements. Then, using the optoelectronic method, we can verify the effects of these improvements. In this way, we can develop better understanding of functional characteristics of MEMS, which will ensure that they are operated at optimum performance, are reliable, and are durable.

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