A deformable grating aparatus for modulating light is made by forming an insulating layer on a substrate, forming a first conductive layer on the insulating layer and then forming a sacrificial layer thereon. The sacrificial layer and the first conducting layer are then etched to define bit lines and busses to bonding pads. Then a layer of resilient material is formed onto the etched layers and a reflective conducting layer is formed on the resilient layer. A dielectric layer is deposited on the reflective conducting layer. The dielectric layer, the reflective conducting layer, the resilient layer and the sacrificial layer are all then etched to form a grating including a plurality of parallel elements. Thereafter the sacrificial layer is removed below the parallel elements, to suspend the parallel elements over the first conducting layer. The surface is treated to prevent the grating from adhering to the first conducting layer. A light modulator includes a substrate with an insulating layer, and a plurality of parallel conductive layers formed on the insulating layer. The ribbons are spaced apart from the conductive layers by an air space and mounted to the substrate in gaps between the conductive layers.