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Now Available: Innovators Under 35 2013 See The 2013 List »

Lih Y. Lin, 34

Built micromirror switches for faster, all-optical telecommunications networks

University of Washington

At about three times the diameter of a human hair, the micromechanical optical switches that Lih Lin designed for AT&T in 1997 and 1998 were scarcely visible. And that miniscule machines she subsequently built solved a fundamental problem in telecommunications. Information travels at high speed over the optical fibers that form the backbones of telecom networks, but converting the optical signals to electronic bits for processing by traditional circuitry limits the network’s overall transmission rate and increases its cost. Lin introduced pivoting micromirrors that can switch light-wave signals directly, circumventing the pitfalls of electronic manipulation. Her technique has since been widely developed and is enhancing the capacity and reducing the cost of the optical-fiber network, as well as enabling faster and broader-band data and video transmission over the Internet. Lin’s work has yielded 16 patents and 120 published papers. As a newly appointed associate professor of electrical engineering at the University of Washington in Seattle, she plans to apply her knowledge of photonics and micromechanics to biotechnology to devise new kinds of imaging tools that can analyze individual cells.

2003 TR35 Winners

John Apostolopoulos

Develops ways to improve the security of streaming video on the Net

Brian Behlendorf

Sparked the widespread development of Web servers, mainstreaming the nascent Web

Jud Bowman

Wrote software that is accelerating the expansion of wireless networking

Lorrie Cranor

Leads the global effort to improve privacy practices and tools on the Web

Jason Hill

Wrote software that allows hundreds of minute wireless sensors to communicate better

Meg Hourihan

Sparked the rise of the popular Web-based journals known as blogs

Paul Q. Judge

Wrote software that stops spam and viruses before they enter a network

Rasmus Lerdorf

Invented a server language that brought live data to the Web

Lih Y. Lin

Built micromirror switches for faster, all-optical telecommunications networks

Paul Meyer

Brings database and Web-like services to remote areas through touch-tone phones

Rueben Singh

Provides support services and startup money for entrepreneurs

Martin Wattenberg

Simplifies peoples electronic lives with graphical data management

Andrew Wheeler

Builds wireless sensor networks that improve industrial efficiency

Evan Williams

Fueled the expansion of blogs across the Web

Jennifer Yates

Wrote software widely adopted by the telecom industry that speeds up optical networks

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