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Business briefs

25 Feb 2008

Featuring news from Philips, Quantel, Orbotech, Luminit, 3S Photonics, Firecomms and more.

Philips has sold a 90% stake in its High Tech Plastics (HTP) Optics business in China to Triumph Pan-Pacific Capital Limited of Hong Kong. The sale price has not been disclosed, but Philips expects to record a loss of approximately €12 million ($17 million) in its first quarter results as a result of the sale. HTP Optics manufactures high-precision plastic lenses used in camera phones, scanners and optical disc readers. The sale represents Philips' intention of focusing on its healthcare, lighting and consumer lifestyle activities, according to the company.

• A UK fibre network in support of photonics and optical systems research has been launched by JANET, a government-funded network connecting the UK's education and research organizations to similar networks in Europe and to the global Internet. JANET Aurora will provide a platform for photonics and optical systems research, and with approximately 350 km of dedicated fibre is amongst the largest test-beds for optical networking research in Europe. Linking groups at the universities of Cambridge, Essex and UCL with access to intermediate locations along each fibre path where additional equipment can be sited, it will enable research groups to pursue their research with minimal constraints in a way that would be impossible on a production network carrying real traffic.

• The Quantel Group, a provider of laser solutions to the industrial, scientific and medical communities, has created a new division to consolidate its business operations in the non-medical arena. The Industrial and Scientific Laser Division includes Quantel USA, Quantel Laser Diodes and Quantel Fiber Laser R&D in France, and the contracts, R&D and manufacturing activities of Quantel in Les Ulis, France. Patrick Maine, the current CEO of Quantel USA, has been appointed executive vice president of the newly created division. Philippe Aubourg has been named vice president for sales, Alain Diard is now vice president for strategic business development, and Kamran Mobarhan has been appointed vice president, marketing and product management.

• Fourth quarter revenues for Orbotech rose to $103.6 million from $82 million the previous quarter, although a net loss for the quarter of $1.1 million represented a decline from the profit of $0.4 million in the third quarter. Net income for the full year 2007 was $1.5 million, compared to $55 million the previous year. The company indicated that the results reflected a challenging environment for its optical inspection systems, particularly in the flat panel display sector. Increased investments in R&D by both printed circuit board and flat panel display manufacturers, along with planned expansion by manufacturers in both sectors, are predicted to allow the company to maintain its position. See also earlier coverage of Orbotech on optics.org.

Luminit, a developer of custom and standard holographic diffusers, has entered into a strategic alliance agreement with Asahi Kasei Corporation to transfer patented holographically mastered light diffusion technology. The alliance includes a technology transfer agreement and development agreements as well as a minority investment by Asahi Kasei Corporation in Luminit. The investment will enable expansion of Luminit's capabilities and accelerated product development, according to the companies.

3S Photonics, formerly Alcatel Optronics and Avanex France, announced sales of $10 million in Q2 2007/2008, up 22% compared to the previous quarter. Revenues trebled compared to the second quarter of the previous year. The growth was attributed partly to the upswing of the submarine market, increased sales in pump laser modules and filters using fibre Bragg gratings, and a programme of restructuring and cost reduction. The company predicted that a return to profit would continue through the next period.

• A fibre optic transceiver from Firecomms has been selected by Hyundai Autonet for use in its Media Oriented Systems Transport (MOST) infotainment networking products. Hyundai Autonet's products will be installed by car manufacturers, with Kia Motors the first adopter for its Mohave sports utility vehicle. See also earlier coverage of Firecomms and MOST on optics.org.

Ophir-Spiricon has announced Fast Ship, a new programme that provides one-day shipment of the most popular power/energy, beam profiling, and M2 laser measurement equipment. Select equipment is guaranteed to be in-stock and available to ship in one business day. If the Fast Ship item is not in stock, Ophir-Spiricon will pay for shipping on that order.

• Revenues for Spectranetics, which produces what it claims to be the only excimer laser approved in the US, Europe and Japan for use in minimally invasive cardiovascular procedures, rose by 35% in Q4 2007 to $23.9 million. The company also reported a net loss of $89,000, a recovery from the loss of $952,000 reported for the same quarter of the previous year. Sales of vascular intervention products and an increase in lead management revenue were said to have largely contributed to the revenue increases, and the company has restructured its sales organization to reflect these growth areas.

Boeing has been awarded a $49 million Laser Application Support and In-house Research and development (LASIR) contract by the US Air Force. Specific research areas will include gas, hybrid electric-gas and chemical laser systems, as well as technologies related to high-power fibre lasers, fibre laser pumps, nonlinear optics, solid-state lasers and diode-pump lasers. Boeing already leads directed energy research and development for various military applications, including the Airborne Laser, Advanced Tactical Laser, High Energy Laser Technology Demonstrator and Tactical Relay Mirror System.

• A grant of $850,000 from the US National Institutes of Health under the small business innovation programme will fund a joint effort between Aculight and the University of Washington to develop a laser-based vestibular implant for trials on patients suffering from balance disorders such as vertigo. Direct vestibular stimulation may alleviate symptoms in many patients, and Aculight believes that infrared stimulation in particular could provide a precise, controlled, non-contact method of stimulating the malfunctioning nerve.

Dynasil, a manufacturer of optical materials, components, coatings and specialized instruments, announced revenues for Q1 2008 of $2.8 million, an increase of 11% over the equivalent quarter of the previous year. Net profit was $190,000, compared with $23,000 for the equivalent period. The company recently announced its intention to acquire an unnamed advanced instrument company that, if completed, is expected to more than triple Dynasil's revenues and profitability.

Worcester Polytechnic Institute, US, has received funds and equipment from IPG Photonics to enhance the teaching and research capabilities of the IPG Photonics Laboratory established at WPI in 2001. The gift includes four pieces of equipment manufactured by IPG: a tunable erbium fibre laser, an erbium-doped fibre-amplifier, a broadband superluminescent light source and a high-power ytterbium laser.

Advanced Medical Optics reported that Q4 2007 sales rose 25% to $304.6 million, as a result of organic growth and the acquisitions of IntraLase and WaveFront Sciences. However, the company also announced a fourth-quarter net loss of $12.3 million, compared to a net loss of $7.6 million in Q4 2006. Full-year sales showed a rise in sales of 9% to just over $1 billion, and a net loss of $193 million compared with a net income of $80 million the previous year. The company predicted strong sales of new technologies in its cataract and implant business, but also announced a programme of workforce reduction along with plans to consolidate its operations.


• Thomas Rasmussen has been appointed vice president of clinical affairs by Spectranetics. He was previously director of clinical research for the Cardiac Rhythm Management (CRM) division of Boston Scientific Corporation, and has experience in managing medical trial programmes and the development of Class III medical devices.

QPC Lasers plans to expand its global sales and marketing team with eight new executives to support growth in its high brightness, high power semiconductor lasers. The appointments will include a consumer electronics business development leader, technical product manager, and investor relations director located at company headquarters in Southern California. To support international sales growth, QPC has also established region-based sales managers in Europe and Japan responsible for direct sales in the region as well as the management of the company's 12 representatives and distributors worldwide.

Edmund Optics GmbHSynopsys, Optical Solutions GroupDIAMOND SACHROMA TECHNOLOGY CORP.LASEROPTIK GmbHSchaefter und Kirchhoff GmbHChromasens GmbH
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