Skip to Content

Guiding Eye for MEMS

Researchers are developing a better scanner for Lasik eye surgery.
November 1, 2006

Problem: To make sure they target the right parts of the cornea during vision-correcting Lasik surgery, doctors rely on a scanner that responds to eye movements and redirects laser pulses. Today’s scanners cost thousands of dollars and still offer less than ideal precision.

Circular mirrors carved into silicon are controlled by motions of combshaped structures. (Courtesy of Hyuck Choo)

Solution: At the University of California, Berkeley, researchers in the Microfabrication Laboratory used inexpensive techniques to build a microscale scanner that moves up to 30,000 times per second, up from the 4,000 times per second of conventional technology. Graduate students Hyuck Choo and David Garmire invented a way to carve one piece of silicon into two interlocked comblike structures. Applying a voltage to one comb makes the other move up or down. A mirror attached to the combs redirects a laser beam. While “comb drives” are already used in some microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), the combs have had to be built on separate silicon wafers and wedged together manually. Because the new device is easy to manufacture, “this is not just an incremental step but a major development,” says Roger T. Howe, the Stanford University electrical engineer who invented the comb drive in the 1980s. Choo says the technology could be cheaply incorporated into surgical scanners and other devices.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

still from Embodied Intelligence video
still from Embodied Intelligence video

These weird virtual creatures evolve their bodies to solve problems

They show how intelligence and body plans are closely linked—and could unlock AI for robots.

conceptual illustration showing various women's faces being scanned
conceptual illustration showing various women's faces being scanned

A horrifying new AI app swaps women into porn videos with a click

Deepfake researchers have long feared the day this would arrive.

protein structures
protein structures

DeepMind says it will release the structure of every protein known to science

The company has already used its protein-folding AI, AlphaFold, to generate structures for the human proteome, as well as yeast, fruit flies, mice, and more.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.