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Business briefs

21 Apr 2008

Featuring news from Osram, Coherent, QPC Lasers, Micronic, Redfern Integrated Optics and more.

Osram Opto Semiconductors has opened its new regional headquarters in Hong Kong, which will coordinate sales and marketing activities in Asia and be headed by Alfred Felder. The move reflects a long-term commitment to China and the Asian market, and will strengthen the company's sales and marketing across the region, according to a statement. An Osram Opto chip factory in Penang, Malaysia, said to be the most advanced such factory in the world, is due to open in spring 2009.

• Certain assets of Coherent's Auburn Optics manufacturing operation have been sold to Research Electro-Optics (REO), a privately held optics manufacturing and technology company. REO will provide manufacturing capabilities for Coherent under a strategic supply agreement, including fabrication and coating of optical components. The transition of the manufacturing assets from Auburn to REO's Boulder, Colorado, facility is due to be completed by Q2 2009.

QPC Lasers has announced its inclusion as a founding member in the 3D@Home Consortium, an alliance promoting 3D entertainment in the home formed by Insight Media and the US Display Consortium. The 22 founding members also include Philips, Samsung, Corning and Fraunhofer Institute IMPS. QPC recently announced a $12 million contract for its BrightLase chip technology for laser TV applications, and the consortium will allow further exploitation of the BrightLase platform, according to the company.

Micronic Laser Systems reported net sales for Q1 2008 of SEK79 million ($13 million), up from SEK40 million for the equivalent quarter last year although still described by the company as reflecting low order intake. Net loss after tax improved from SEK78 million to SEK29 million. Increased spending on display manufacturing equipment in 2008 was predicted to stimulate demand for Micronic's laser pattern generators for the production of photomasks, although uncertainty about when the pick-up will occur still remains.

Redfern Integrated Optics (RIO) has secured funding worth $7.5 million for continued development of optical transmitters based on its proprietary planar external cavity laser technology. In connection with the new equity financing, Larry Marshall, managing director at Southern Cross Venture Partners, has joined RIO's board of directors.

• Seven LEDs from Docter Optics, a German developer of optical glass projection lenses for automotive applications, are used in the headlights of the Cadillac Escalade Platinum, which is the first SUV to feature full-LED headlights. The proprietary DOC3D process developed by Docter Optics is claimed to allow the economic production of special lenses for LED headlights, allowing headlight manufacturers to source multiple-lens systems, arrays or more elaborate variants for future models. See the optics.org blog for another innovative use of automotive LEDs.

• A 4.1 m primary mirror has been delivered to the Vista (Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy) survey telescope at Cerro Paranal, Chile. Said to be the most strongly curved large mirror ever to be polished to such precise surface accuracy, it will now be coupled with a small camera for initial testing prior to installing the main camera in June, with full scientific operations due to start in 2009. Vista will form part of ESO's Very Large Telescope facility, and survey the southern sky at near-infrared wavelengths.

Nanoident Tchnologies, an Austrian developer of printed semiconductor-based optoelectronic sensors, has announced a multi-party agreement with German company Microfluidic ChipShop to develop an airborne pathogen detection system for the European Defence Agency. The system will be able to simultaneously test for multiple pathogens, combining several novel technologies to collect a sample from the air, inject it into liquid, process it and perform analysis. Optoelectronic sensors printed onto each lab-on-a-chip system will allow the system to be portable, rugged, and more tolerant of dust than conventional test systems, according to the developers.

• A move away from government-sponsored research and towards commercial products was reflected in results from JMAR Technologies, which reported a drop in revenues to $869,000 for 2007 compared to $2 million for the previous year. Despite this, increased sales of the company's Biosentry system combined with the trend away from lower-margin government contracts led to healthier margins, and a loss of $3.3 million for the year compared to $14.4 million for 2006. The company singled out Biosentry as having strong growth potential, and indicated that a number of potential sensor products based on JMAR's double-pulse laser technology were also in development.

• Job cuts amounting to 10% of its domestic workforce were announced by GSI Group in response to softness in the semiconductor markets and low demand for its lasers, motion sensors and components. The company reported $318 million in revenue in 2007, with a net profit of $19 million. Those numbers reflect a $5 million increase in revenue over 2006, but a $2.7 million reduction in profit.

Ondax, a developer of volume holographic gratings (VHGs) and wavelength-stabilized singlemode semiconductor lasers, has been granted a new patent from the US Patent and Trademark Office. The patent is claimed to solidify the protection of the company's intellectual property portfolio in volume holographic gratings and their applications, and details an automated method for measuring every parameter of a VHG wafer simultaneously.

Enablence Technologies, a supplier of planar lightwave circuit (PLC) components for the FTTH, metro and long-haul telecommunication markets, has acquired Wave7 Optics, a global provider of FTTH systems. Wave7 Optics is deploying the Trident7 universal access platform, and has a customer base of more than 100 FTTH service providers. Enablence will continue to develop PLC-based transceivers for other system vendors in the marketplace.

• Increasing demand for high-resolution OLED microdisplays allowed eMagin to increase revenues by 115% to $17.6 million in 2007. Net loss for the year was $18.5 million, compared to a loss of $15.3 million in 2006. Military OEM growth doubled during the year, with demand for power-efficient displays to support combat, simulation and training highlighted by the company as the primary growth driver.

• The US assets of Diomed Holdings, a developer of minimally invasive laser-based medical technologies, have been purchased by AngioDynamics for $8 million following Diomed's filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy earlier in the year. AngioDynamics has also purchased the assets of Diomed's UK subsidiary for $3 million. The deal is said to ensure continued development and supply of Diomed's laser technology to clinicians, including the supply of Diomed's EndoVenous laser technology alongside AngioDynamics' existing venous product line.

People

• The GSI Group Laser Division has appointed Mark Richmond as product manager for its fibre laser division. Richmond has had more than a decade of experience within GSI, and will be responsible for promoting the company's JK Fiber Laser.

• Christopher Progler and Patrick Naulleau have joined Cymer's Scientific Advisory Board, which guides the company's development of UV lasers for photolithography systems. Progler is chief technology officer at Photronics, and Naulleau is lead scientist at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory's centre for X-ray optics.

Synopsys, Optical Solutions GroupBoston Electronics CorporationBRD Optical Co., LtdESPROS Photonics AGAVANTES BVPhotonTec Berlin GmbHPhoton Engineering, LLC
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