daily coverage of the optics & photonics industry and the markets that it serves

Business briefs

08 Sep 2008

Featuring news from the European Commission, Northrop Grumman, Newport, e2v and more.

• A new CMOS photonics project has been launched by the European Commission within the Information and Communication Technologies theme of the 7th Framework Programme (FP7). HELIOS (pHotonics ELectronics functional Integration on CMOS) is a four-year programme coordinated by CEA-LETI that gathers 19 European partners and has been awarded a grant of €8.5 million ($12 million). The project is intended to allow the combination of a photonic layer with a CMOS circuit using microelectronics fabrication processes, and make CMOS photonics accessible to a broad range of users in a fab-less way.

IMEC and CEA-LETI have launched the ePIXfab wafer silicon photonics prototyping service. Co-funded by the European Union through FP7 and coordinated by IMEC, ePIXfab aims to reduce the large barriers for access to and market take-up of silicon photonics technology by focusing on reduced cost, education, and roadmapping. ePIXfab organizes shuttle fabrication runs with IMEC and LETI wafer-scale technologies, including 193 nm deep-UV lithography-based processes. Dedicated prototyping and small-volume manufacturing are also possible based on IMEC or LETI technology.

Northrop Grumman has set what it claims to be a new record for tactically significant power and beam quality from a solid-state laser. As part of the US military's Joint High Power Solid State Laser (JHPSSL) programme, the system combined two laser chains to produce 30 kW power levels. It then operated at this performance level for more than five minutes continuously and 40 minutes in total. Electrical-to-optical efficiency of greater than 19% was said to have been achieved.

Newport has announced the steps it is taking to reduce its operating costs and improve its financial performance. These include outsourcing certain manufacturing processes, particularly in the company's lasers division, to lower-cost sources in Asia, including the company's new manufacturing facility in China. The company's workforce will be reduced by 8-10% worldwide and administrative processes will be streamlined. The company expects these measures to improve operating profit by $11-14 million in 2009.

• An indium gallium arsenide shortwave infrared camera from Sensors Unlimited, part of the Goodrich Corporation, has been successfully flight-tested on the ScanEagle unmanned aircraft. InGaAs night vision (NV) technology detects reflected light, unlike thermal NV cameras that detect heat signatures, and this is claimed to allow exceptional identification clarity over a wide range of day and night illumination levels.

AVA Solar has raised $104 million in second-round funding, led by DCM with Technology Partners, GLG Partners, Bohemian Cos. and return backers Invus. The company plans to use the funds to finish building its first production facility which it says will have the capacity to produce 200 MW of thin-film photovoltaic modules each year. The company, a spin-out from Colorado State University, US, claims that its production method is unique, involving multiple high-speed automated production lines to mass-produce solar panels.

• The OptiML wafer-level camera (WLC) developed by Tessera Technologies has been named as one of the year's most significant innovations by R&D Magazine. This is the third award win for the OptiML WLC technology, which was introduced in 2007 and has been covered previously on optics.org.

e2v, a UK developer of imaging components and sub-systems, will acquire QP Semiconductor of Santa Clara, US, for an initial cash consideration of $65 million dollars. QP is a supplier of specialty semiconductor components used in military and aerospace applications, designed to deliver high performance in extreme conditions. The acquisition is described by e2v as an important step in establishing an operational footprint in the US and expanding the relationship with the US Department of Defence.

In a separate announcement, e2v will supply ESO, the largest astronomical institute in Europe, with a set of CCD231-84 sensors over a two year period. The image sensors will be used on a new Multi Unit Spectroscopic Explorer (MUSE) being built for the Very Large Telescope, and will allow thousands of spectra to be recorded simultaneously for the study of dense stellar and extragalactic astrophysical fields.

nLIGHT, a supplier of high-power semiconductor lasers and fibres, has acquired a majority interest in Optotools, headquartered in Heilbronn, Germany. The Optotools product line will remain unchanged, with new and integrated products introduced in the next 12 months. The acquisition further enhances nLIGHT's portfolio of products for the industrial laser market and expands our investment in the German market, according to an nLIGHT statement.

MicroEmissive Displays (MED), a developer of P-OLED microdisplays, is expanding its sales network in Asia with the appointment of a new distribution partner in Korea. The new agreement enables MtekGlobal to market MED's microdisplay products to designers of mobile multimedia accessories and electronic viewfinders throughout Korea. The deal follows MED's recent partnership agreements in Japan and Taiwan and adds additional weight to its Asian sales network.

Photon Engineering, LLCSynopsys, Optical Solutions GroupScitec Instruments Ltdart Photonics GmbHDelta Optical Thin Film A/SAltechnaSpectrum Scientific Inc. -  SSI Optics
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