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ISS to welcome InGaAs pioneer

05 Apr 2004

Greg Olsen, the CEO of Sensors Unlimited, is set to spend a week on the International Space Station in April 2005.

Greg Olsen, the CEO of InGaAs specialist Sensors Unlimited, is to become the third private space explorer to travel to the International Space Station (ISS).

The 58-year old pioneer of III-V device manufacturing will begin training at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia, next month. His trip to the ISS is scheduled for April 2005.

Sensors Unlimited, which is based in Princeton, NJ, makes InGaAs-based PIN and avalanche photodiode arrays for near-infrared imaging.

The company also operates an InGaAs foundry service at its fabrication facility, in which devices are manufactured on 2- and 4-inch InP substrates.

Unlike previous space tourists Dennis Tito and Mark Shuttleworth, Olsen is reported to be planning to carry out some scientific experiments during his visit.

According to a report in the Houston Chronicle newspaper, once on board the ISS, Olsen plans to use one of his company’s InGaAs cameras to study water vapor in the Earth’s atmosphere and grow an alloy of indium, gallium and a third metal that is said to be a particularly effective infrared sensor.

Olsen, who has been involved in the development of III-V devices for over 30 years, founded Epitaxx in 1984 after developing lasers, LEDs and photodiodes at RCA Laboratories (now Sarnoff Corporation).

He sold Epitaxx, which manufactured emitters and detectors for fiber-optic applications, to Nippon Sheet Glass for $12 million in 1990, before founding Sensors Unlimited the following year.

In 2000, at the very height of the telecoms boom, the US company Finisar bought Sensors Unlimited for $700 million. Two years later, Olsen led a management buyback of the company and Sensors Unlimited is now a privately-owned company once again.

Meanwhile, JDS Uniphase acquired Epitaxx in a $400 million deal in 1999.

From Compound Semiconductor

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