Current high-contrast "extreme" adaptive optics (ExAO) systems are partially limited by deformable mirror technology. Mirror requirements specify thousands of actuators, all of which must be functional within the clear aperture, and which give nanometer flatness yet micron stroke when operated in closed loop.1 Micro-electrical mechanical-systems (MEMS) deformable mirrors have been shown to meet ExAO actuator yield, wavefront error, and cost considerations. This study presents the performance of Boston Micromachines' 1024-actuator continuous-facesheet MEMS deformable mirrors under tests for actuator stability, position repeatability, and practical operating stroke. To explore whether MEMS actuators are susceptible to temporal variation, a series of long-term stability experiments were conducted. Each actuator was held fixed and the motion over 40 minutes was measured. The median displacement of all the actuators tested was 0.08 nm surface, inclusive of system error. MEMS devices are also appealing for adaptive optics architectures based on open-loop correction. In experiments of actuator position repeatability, 100% of the tested actuators returned repeatedly to their starting point with a precision of < 1 nm surface. Finally, MEMS devices were tested for maximum stroke achieved under application of spatially varying one-dimensional sinusoids. Given a specified amplitude in voltage, the measured stroke was 1 μm surface at the low spatial frequencies, decreasing to 0.2 μm surface for the highest spatial frequency. Stroke varied somewhat linearly as inverse spatial frequency, with a flattening in the relation at the high spatial frequency end.© (2006) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.