28 Apr 2008
Featuring news from Zygo, Trumpf, ESA, II-VI, Kopin, NPL, eSolar and more.
• Continued softness in semiconductor capital spending adversely affected both the metrology and optics divisions of Zygo, which reported net sales of $38.5 million and break-even net earnings for Q3 2008, compared with sales of $48.7 million and net earnings of $4 million for the equivalent quarter of 2007. Results from the company's display-related activities were stronger, including $6.6 million of orders for use in display fabs producing G7.5 and G8 products. The company acknowledged that its transition from an OEM to an in-line tool supplier to the semiconductor industry has taken longer than originally anticipated, but indicated that there were encouraging prospects for the future.
• Trumpf is the first German machine tool manufacturer to launch production on Japanese soil, with the opening of its Trumpf Manufacturing Japan facility at Fukushima north of Tokyo. Thirty five employees will initially work in the new 4,500 sq. meter production plant, which represents an investment of more than $14 million by the company. Products manufactured at Fukushima are primarily aimed at domestic applications in Japan, which is one of Trumpf's top five markets worldwide.
• The telescope mirror of the ESA's Herschel space-based infrared observatory has been assembled with the payload and service module, completing the spacecraft structure. It will now be subjected to several mechanical tests in the lead up to launch. The 3.5 m mirror is made from 12 silicon carbide petals brazed together to form a single structure, and coated with a layer of reflective aluminium. The fully-assembled telescope, which includes the primary mirror, the secondary mirror and its support structure, weighs only 320 kg. Herschel's spectral coverage will range from far-infrared to sub-millimetre wavelengths, which will be available from space-based observations for the first time.
• Third quarter revenues for II-VI increased by 25% compared to the equivalent quarter last year, reaching a record $80.9 million, while net earnings rose by 3% to $13 million. Infrared optics was said to be a significant growth driver, and HIGHYAG Lasertechnologie made its first contributions to the results following its acquisition. II-VI recently announced its intention to sell its x-ray and gamma-ray radiation sensor division and focus on other business areas.
• Kopin has been awarded the first phase of an anticipated three-phase $4.2 million US Army programme to accelerate production capability and improve the performance of its CyberDisplay SXGA LVR microdisplay. The Army's next generation of night vision systems will use multi-spectral imaging sensors and Kopin's full-colour displays to provide soldiers with daytime-like images, even in total darkness. The CyberDisplay SXGA LVR is a 0.97 inch-diagonal active-matrix liquid crystal display with 1280x1024 pixel resolution, and represents the culmination of Kopin's partnership with the US Government to develop a new 8-inch processing line, according to the company.
• The UK's National Physical Laboratory (NPL) has taken delivery of an optical coherence tomography (OCT) scanner to continue research into quantifying results from the sub-surface medical imaging technology. The laboratory aims to measure the optical properties of biological materials from OCT scans, which will enable clinicians to take important treatment decisions from the images. OCT scans are predicted to be of value in the diagnosis of cancer, tissue engineering and new ways of looking at tooth decay and dental biomaterials. NPL chose the Michelson Diagnostics EX1301 OCT scanner in a competitive tender.
• eSolar, a producer of scalable solar thermal power plants, has closed $130 million in funding from Idealab, Google.org, Oak Investment Partners, and other investors for the construction and deployment of pre-fabricated power plants. Designed to address the issues surrounding large or utility-scale power projects, eSolar's distributed solar thermal plants are claimed to achieve economies of scale at 33 MW and are based on mass manufactured components for rapid construction and scalability. The company has secured land rights in the southwest US to support the production and transmission of over 1 GW of power, and expects to have a fully operational power plant in southern California later this year.
• JP Sercel Associates (JPSA) announced a partnership with ETSC Technology to represent and service JPSA laser systems and technology products in China. ETSC is a distribution company for photonics and semiconductor industrial equipment and technology, and its experience in the China marketplace will be an asset to JPSA in growing the company's UV excimer, DPSS and ultrafast laser micromachining systems, according to a statement.
• Significant sales growth in vascular intervention and lead management products allowed Spectranetics to post first-quarter revenues of $23.8 million, an increase of 37% compared to the same period last year. Pre-tax loss for the quarter was $685,000, compared with pre-tax income of $165,000 for Q1 2007. The worldwide installed base of the company's excimer laser systems increased to 767, of which 607 are in the United States, and the strong growth was said to validate the decision to separate the company's sales force into two groups focused on the distinct product groups.
• Challenging conditions in the North American aesthetic laser market contributed to the small increase in revenues posted by Candela for the third quarter 2008, which rose by 0.5% to $38.9 million. Revenues specifically from lasers and other products in the quarter decreased to $28.4 million from $29.0 million. Overall the company reported a net loss of $2.1 million for the quarter, versus net income of $1.5 million in the corresponding period last year. Candela indicated that its international performance remained strong, and that it intended to protect its position in these markets while adapting to US market conditions.
• Powerlase, a developer of nanosecond Q-switched, diode-pumped solid state lasers, has been awarded the Queen's Award for Enterprise in the International Trade category. The award recognizes expansion in the international marketplace and the company's role in furthering the reputation of UK manufacturing to the international community. Powerlase has recorded significant expansion into the Korean flat-panel display television marketplace, including sales agreements with Samsung and LG.
• Microscope manufacturer WITec has begun construction of a new headquarters building in Ulm, Germany, including research, production and office facilities. The facility will be ready for occupancy by May 2009 to meet demand for high resolution microscopy solutions from the nanotechnology, materials research and life sciences markets.
• HelioVolt, a producer of thin-film solar energy products, has named Louay Eldada as chief technical officer, responsible for directing strategic technology planning and development. Eldada joins from DuPont and previously founded and managed Telephotonics.
• Paul Campbell has been appointed interim chief financial officer by eMagin, succeeding Michael Fowler whose interim appointment has concluded. Campbell is a member of Tatum LLC, a national organization providing executive-level CFO services to companies undergoing rapid and significant change. eMagin recently reported that revenues for 2007 increased by 115%.
• Reflex Photonics, a developer of high-speed optical connectivity solutions for semiconductor packaging and data transfer applications, has appointed Jan Czech to its Board of Directors. Czech's career in the management of high-technology companies spans more than 30 years, including roles at Neotelis, Odesia Group and Inno-centre.