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Business briefs

05 Jan 2009

Featuring news from NanoMarkets, DisplaySearch, Cree, Volcano Corporation and more.

• Although projected growth for the thin-film photovoltaic (PV) sector is likely to suffer as the result of the economic downturn, it still represents an attractive market for materials firms, according to a new report. Overall PV revenues are expected to reach $2.4 billion in 2011 and grow to just under $7.5 billion in 2015, according to Materials for Thin Film and Organic Photovoltaics available from NanoMarkets. The current financial crisis will delay improvements for some of the advanced materials under development in the sector and slow the progress that thin-film PV has been making at the expense of traditional crystalline silicon photovoltaics. However, thin-film materials are expected to experience significant new demand as economic conditions inflate the price of traditional energy sources.

• Shipments of large-area TFT LCD panels in November 2008 reached their lowest level since May 2007, according to the monthly TFT LCD shipment database from DisplaySearch. Total shipments were 28.5 million units, down 21% month on month and 25% year on year. Revenue for large-area TFT LCD panels fell to $3.8 billion, the lowest level since July 2006. Panel demand weakened significantly in all three of the major TFT LCD applications, notebook PCs, monitors and TVs, and panel suppliers have duly reduced capacity utilization. However, the figures indicated the need for additional capacity reduction, since falling panel prices are not stimulating demand under the current economic conditions, according to the report.

• The global laser market across diode and non-diode systems was worth an estimated $7.1 billion in sales during 2008, a growth of 3.7% over 2007, despite slowing sales in the second half of the year. These current trends will impact sales in 2009, which are forecast to show a decline of 11% from 2008. The downturn is expected to be longer than the last brief contraction in early 2007, and will mark the first annual decline in the overall market since 2000–2002. These findings will be presented at the Lasers & Photonics Marketplace Seminar in January.

Cree, a US-based developer of LED lighting, and Boston University have agreed to settle the patent infringement litigation brought against Bridgelux and to dismiss all claims and counterclaims in the suits. As part of the settlement, Cree has granted Bridgelux a licence to the Cree and Boston University patents at issue in the litigation, and Bridgelux has agreed to pay a licence fee and royalties. In addition, Bridgelux and Cree have entered into a supply agreement under which Cree will become a significant supplier to Bridgelux. Other terms of the settlement are confidential.

Volcano Corporation, a US manufacturer of diagnosis and treatment systems for coronary and peripheral artery disease, has acquired Axsun Technologies, a privately held manufacturer of lasers and optical engines used in medical optical coherence tomography (OCT) imaging. Axsun expects to launch medical imaging systems during the first half of 2009, and Volcano will incorporate the Axsun technology into new OCT imaging systems. The acquisition is claimed to be worth $21.5 million, and Axsun will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of Volcano.

• Despite recent turmoil in the economy, the photonics industry has reason to expect growth, according to SPIE. The society's CEO Eugene Arthurs said during a visit to Taiwan that photonics technologies in energy, medicine, genomics, imaging and defence were all expanding steadily. Arthurs also predicts strong expansion of the communications and datacom sectors, as the optically powered internet continues to grow.

• The Times Square Ball featured in New York city's New Year celebrations doubled in size to 3.6 m in diameter compared to the previous year, and contained 32,256 LUXEON LEDs supplied by Philips. The Ball was first converted from incandescent and halogen lighting to LEDs in 2007, to commemorate its centenary.

People

Cree has elected Robert Ingram to the board of directors. Ingram has been a vice-chairman of GlaxoSmithKline since 2003, and also serves on the boards of a number of other pharmaceuticals and bioscience companies.

• Brian Ludvigsen has been appointed sales and marketing manager for home cinema products by Schneider Optics, a US-based manufacturer of lenses and filters. Ludvigsen served as president of ISCO USA, a producer of cinema projection lenses and other specialized optics, which was acquired by Schneider in August 2008 along with the rest of the ISCO group.

Berliner Glas KGaA Herbert Kubatz GmbH & Co.Lumencor, Inc.NIL TechnologyDataRay Inc.AUREA TECHNOLOGYJENOPTIK Light & OpticsSPECTROGON AB
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