A micromachined cantilever beam accelerometer is described in which beam deflection is determined optically. A diving board structure is anisotropically etched into a silicon wafer. This diving board structure is patterned from the wafer backside so as to leave a small gap between the tip of the diving board and the opposite fixed edge on the front side of the wafer. In order to sense a realistic range of accelerations, a foot mass incorporated onto the end of the beam is found to provide design flexibility. A silicon nitride optical waveguide is then deposited by low pressure chemical vapor deposition (LPCVD) onto the sample. Beam deflection is measured by the decrease of light coupled across the gap between the waveguide sections. In order to investigate sensor response and simulate deflection of the beam, we utilized a separate beam and waveguide section which could be displaced from one another in a precisely controlled manner. Measurements were performed on samples with gaps of 4.0, 6.0, and 8.0 micron and the variation of the fraction of light coupled across the gap as a function of displacement and gap spacing was found to agree with overlap integral calculations.© (1993) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.