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19 May 2008

Featuring news from BCC Research, Multiwave Photonics, 3M, Sony, BrightSource Energy and more.

• The global market for process spectroscopy will be worth $1.2 billion in 2008 and increase to $1.9 billion by 2013 at an annual growth rate of 8.5%. Within this market, the process spectroscopy equipment sector has an estimated value of $957.7 million in 2008, rising to $1.4 billion in 2013. During the same period, the market for process spectroscopy applications will increase from $282.6 million to $445.3 million. Diode array spectrometers are currently gaining market traction for use in process spectroscopy, although their current impressive growth rate is unlikely to be maintained as implementation proliferates and the specific technologies and techniques mature. Raman scattering spectrometry is a few stages ahead of diode array spectrometers in process spectroscopy applications, and its growth rate is expected to remain strong and probably in double-digits for several more years. These findings are reported in Process Spectroscopy: the Global Market (IAS008C) from BCC Research.

Multiwave Photonics, a developer of pulsed fibre lasers based in Portugal, has closed its Series B financing round of €5 million ($8 million). The proceeds will support its growth strategy and expansion plans for next-generation pulsed fibre lasers and specialty optical sources based on fibre-optic technologies.

3M and Sony Corporation have signed a license agreement that grants Sony the right to use certain 3M optical film technologies in its prismatic films for LCD TV products. The agreement is said to reflect the increased desire by 3M and Sony to work together to provide the overall best solution for the LCD TV panel market. Specific terms of the license agreement remain confidential.

BrightSource Energy, a developer of utility-scale solar energy projects, has secured $115 million in additional corporate funding from its Series C round of financing, bringing the total raised to date by the company to over $160 million. The funds will enable the company to accelerate its plans to deliver utility-grade solar power, according to a company statement. BrightSource recently entered into a series of power purchase agreements with California utility company PG&E, and is currently developing a number of solar power plants in the Mojave Desert of Southern California, with construction of the first plant planned to start in 2009.

Samsung's new "Blue Phase" LCD panels do not require liquid crystal alignment layers but instead make their own alignment layers, eliminating the need any mechanical alignment and simplifying fabrication, according to the company. Overdrive circuits are currently applied to each LCD panel to improve the video image quality in premium LCD TVs, which are driven at 120 Hz. The Blue Phase model features a superior response rate, allowing images to be reproduced at 240 Hz or higher without the need for any overdrive circuit. The term "Blue Phase" was coined when the technology's developers observed bluish hues while watching their new liquid crystal mode in operation.

Biolase reported a net income for the first quarter of 2008 of $26,000, the first quarterly profit posted by the company in the last four quarters, compared to a loss of $1.7 million in the same period of 2007. Revenues for the company's dental laser systems rose by 26% to $19 million. The return to profit was said to be a sign of operational progress as well as domestic sales performance. International performance and a strengthening of Biolase's global organization was a focus for the future, according to a statement.

Intematix, a developer of LED lighting components and integration services, has released two new lines of solid-state lighting components through its Taiwan subsidiary Intematix Technology Center (ITC). The Apus line of single-chip packages is said to typically deliver up to 80 lm/W at 1 W for 5500K cool white and 70 lm/W at 1 W for 3300K warm white. When making use of Intematix' new red phosphor technology, colour rendering is typically greater than 90, even at these high efficiency levels. The Cetus product line employs a unique cavity design, in which each cavity is connected through LTCC ceramic substrates, a technology referred to as "chip on ceramic" LEDs and LED arrays. Cetus products are available in configurations from four to hundreds of chips in series or parallel, as well as series/parallel combinations.

• Delivery of a technology demonstrator to the US Navy and continued product development helped Applied Energetics to report revenues of $2.1 million for the first quarter of 2008, almost unchanged from the equivalent period last year. The company's net loss worsened slightly to $3.6 million from $2.7 million. Significant progress in the development of counter-IED (improvised explosive device) technologies was said by the company to indicate strong potential growth in the future.

MicroEmissive Displays (MED) is extending its distribution partnership with the Spectrum Electronics Group to include technical sales and marketing support in North America. Coverage will be provided by Spectrum's strategic partner, Solutions in Silicon. The agreement reflects the importance of the North American market for MED's polymer organic light-emitting diode microdisplays, and is a response to the continuing globalization of the electronics industry, according to a company statement. Solutions in Silicon is headquartered in Santa Clara, California.

Laseroptik has installed additional ion-beam sputtering (IBS) capacity to meet increasing demand for its high-precision sputtered coatings. The expansion is said to allow improved customization of coatings to meet customer requirements, such as low loss super mirrors, complex filter designs and coatings on crystals. IBS coatings have recently become an integral part of the Laseroptik Express service, which offers coatings and optics within 24 hours, 1-2 weeks or 3 weeks for special prototypes.

• Results from Universal Display Corporation (UDC) showed that the company's net loss improved slightly to $4.1 million for Q1 2008, compared to $4.5 million for the same quarter last year. Revenues declined from $3 million to $2.7 million due to lower developmental revenue, although the company indicated that this was to be expected as AMOLED manufacturers transition from development to commercial activities. Samsung, UDC's licensee, achieved volume production of AMOLED displays and is expected to increase output in 2008 and again in 2009, driving a further increase in commercial revenue.

Fujitsu Limited will spin off its photonics manufacturing division and photonics product development division for the Japanese market and transfer the divisions to its wholly owned subsidiary, Fujitsu Access Limited. The move is said to be a response to increasingly challenging markets and intensifying competition. Fujitsu has until now divided responsibility between Fujitsu Limited responsible for backbone networks and Fujitsu Access responsible for access networks, but will now combine the two into a more unified structure.

Toshiba Imaging Systems Division is partnering with Olympus Canada to supply a new tool for clinical pathology and teaching, the High Definition Synergy-HD Microscope Imaging System. This will incorporate Toshiba's new ultra-compact IK-HD1 3CCD HDTV camera, and include an HD wide screen 42" or 47" 1080p LCD monitor to deliver video imagery in real time, displaying the entire slide at all magnifications.

• Softening of the semiconductor and PCB markets was said to lie behind a reduction in revenues for GSI Group to $71.7 million for Q1 2008, down from $74.2 million for the same quarter last year. Profits for the supplier of precision laser products also dipped, from $4.7 million to $2.1 million. The company indicated that it would use the cyclically soft period to position itself for the next upturn and to improve operational efficiency. A strategy of new product launches and growth in Asia was said to remain in place.

Z-Laser Optoelektronik, Germany, has set up a UK sales office in Merthyr Tydfil, with an aim to enhance and expand its prospective customer base. The healthy market for industrial laser products in the UK was behind the decision to provide a local sales organization in that territory, according to Z-Laser. The office will be run by Gary Rees.

People

• Bernard Couillaud and Ted Collins have been elected to the board of directors of Bookham. Couillaud has more than 25 years experience in the optics field, including time as the chairman of Coherent. Collins is currently a partner at ChinaVest, where he is involved in private equity investments in China. The appointments are part of Bookham's move towards reaching positive cash flow from operations before the end of the calendar year and guiding the company to consistent growth, according to a statement.

• James Fitzhenry has been named executive vice president of Schmitt Industries, having previously been a senior vice president of Flir. The company's Measurement Systems subsidiary supplies precision laser measurement systems to a range of customers.

• Mel Engle has been named chief executive officer by Raydiance, succeeding company founder Barry Schuler who becomes executive chairman. The appointment is said to reflect intense interest in Raydiance's ultrashort pulse laser technology and the prospects for adoption of the technology in the near future.

art Photonics GmbHBristol Instruments, Inc.Universe Kogaku America Inc.BRD Optical Co., LtdDiverse Optics Inc.Spectrum Scientific Inc. -  SSI OpticsficonTEC Service GmbH
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