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Business briefs

13 Oct 2008

Featuring news from Konarka, SPI Lasers, Philips, Sanyo, Sofradir and more.

Konarka has opened what is claimed to be the world's largest roll-to-roll thin-film solar manufacturing facility in Massachusetts, US, as part of its plans to accelerate the development and commercialization of its polymer-based organic photovoltaic (OPV) technologies. The facility was previously owned by Polaroid, and Konarka has acquired the technology and process engineering teams from the former operators, in addition to the fully automated roll-to-roll manufacturing line. The plant could potentially produce over a gigawatt of flexible plastic solar modules per year, according to Konarka.

• The UK Health Protection Agency has published a warning that some energy saving compact fluorescent lights can emit ultraviolet radiation at levels that, under certain conditions of use, can result in exposures higher than guideline levels. The agency and government departments are calling on the European Union, relevant product standards bodies and the lighting industry to consider how product standards for lights can be tightened up.

• The acquisition of SPI Lasers by TRUMPF has been completed, after shareholders of SPI Lasers approved the sale of more than 90% of the company's shares. TRUMPF indicated that it intends to maintain and expand the merchant laser sales channel established by SPI Lasers, and it is expected that other OEM products will be marketed through this channel over time.

Philips and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory are to jointly research new energy-efficient solutions for buildings. New technologies for the control of multiple building sub-systems such as lighting and temperature controls, along with new simulation tools for evaluating energy control strategies will be developed. The joint program will leverage Philips' knowledge of fluorescent and solid-state lighting controls and its understanding of ambient environments, while Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory already contributes to energy efficient lighting in integrated building systems and has links to state and federal energy agencies.

Prism Solar Technologies has been awarded a $1 million grant from The Solar Energy Consortium (TSEC), as part of its financing to begin manufacture of its holographic planar concentrator technology in New York state, US. Prism's core technology is based on holographic optics, which selects the desired spectrum of sunlight allowing for a "cooler" solar cell operation while maintaining an increased power output. The award is also said to reflect the efforts of TSEC to boost PV technology in the state.

Sanyo and Nippon Oil have agreed to explore the establishment of a joint company to handle the expected expansion and development of the thin-film solar cell market, a sector in which they share similar interests. The two companies will enter more detailed negotiations with the intention of establishing a joint company by April 2009, and the subsequent commercialization of efficient, low-cost thin-film solar cells by 2010.

• OLED panel shipments are expected to increase 7.3% year-on-year to 110.11 million units in fiscal 2008, according to the results of a survey conducted by Yano Research Institute. Shipments of active matrix OLEDs (AMOLEDs) are growing as Japanese telecommunication companies and major mobile phone manufacturers employ them as the main panel for their handsets, and AMOLEDs will account for 68% of the overall shipment value in fiscal 2010, according to the report.

Sofradir, a developer of advanced IR detectors for military, space and industrial applications, will acquire Electrophysics, a US developer of advanced high-performance IR equipment. Financial terms were not disclosed. The acquisition is expected to accelerate the development of Sofradir and its subsidiary ULIS in the North American market. It will provide Sofradir and ULIS with a US platform to better serve the North American IR detector and module market, estimated to be the largest in the world and worth $1 billion (€700 million).

• Physicists at the University of KwaZulu-Natal's Centre for Quantum Technology, South Africa, have announced the installation of a quantum communication security solution over the eThekwini Municipality fibre-optic network infrastructure, making the City of Durban the world's first "Quantum City", according to the team. The QuantumCity project aims to provide the city with the capabilities to offer quantum security solutions to users of their recently installed fibre-optic network.


• Rick Sandstrom and Bill Partlo of Cymer received the Berthold Leibinger Innovationspreis Award for Advancement of Light Source Technology, in recognition of their work developing Cymer's deep ultraviolet excimer lasers for advanced microlithography. The prizes are awarded every two years by Berthold Leibinger Stiftung, a non-profit German foundation dedicated to recognizing technical innovations.

Optikos Corporation LaCroix Precision OpticsECOPTIKCHROMA TECHNOLOGY CORP.Berkeley Nucleonics CorporationMad City Labs, Inc.LASEROPTIK GmbH
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