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Oclaro strengthens diode portfolio

25 Jun 2009

A new line of diode bars is part of Oclaro's strategy to become the largest merchant supplier of high-power laser diodes.

Oclaro, the company formed in the merger between Bookham and Avanex, has made a bid for the industrial laser market with the introduction of diode bars delivering a power output of up to 200 W at 1030 and 1070 nm. Debuting at LASER World of Photonics, the company claims that the new products offer the highest CW power output of any diode bar currently on the market.

"LASER 2009 is an important event for Oclaro as we launch our new brand, and confirm our position as the leader in providing high-power laser-diode bars," said Yves LeMaitre, head of Oclaro's Advanced Photonics Solutions Division.

According to LeMaitre, the availability of diode bars operating at different colours enables manufacturers to exploit wavelength multiplexing to scale the power output of their direct-diode systems, which would make them directly competitive with fibre lasers and CO2 lasers for materials processing applications.

The 200 W device joins an extended portfolio of laser-diode bars from Oclaro. Other new products include a 100 W version emitting at 808 nm, and a new series of 150 W diode bars operating at 9xx and 10xx nm.

"The industry-leading 200 W bars are aimed at high-end direct-diode system manufacturers, while the 150 W bars offer an alternative for customers who are not quite ready to handle drive currents in the 200 A range," said Christian Naumer, senior product line manager at Oclaro. "Our 808 nm products are targeting defence-related pumping and directed-energy applications, as well as solar-cell and flat-panel-display fabrication."

The renewed focus on industrial applications forms part of Oclaro's strategy to extend its merchant diode business beyond its traditional telecoms arena. "In the current crisis, companies can't afford to maintain their own fab," LeMaitre told optics.org. "We aim to grow our non-telecoms business from 10–15% up to 25%."

That strategy will be further reinforced by the asset swap Oclaro is now planning with Newport Spectra-Physics, a transaction which is expected to complete within the next three months. If the deal goes ahead, Oclaro will acquire the Newport Spectra-Physics line of high-power laser diodes used in diode-pumped solid-state and fibre-laser systems for research, medical and industrial applications.

As well as opening up new application areas, the deal with Newport Spectra-Physics will enable Oclaro to make more efficient use of its chip fabrication facilities in Zürich, Switzerland, and Caswell, UK. The company plans to consolidate the manufacturing processes at the Newport Spectra-Physics lab in Tucson, Arizona, into Oclaro's existing facilities, which Oclaro expects will increase wafer volumes by 30% and so improve the gross margin for its telecoms products.

According to LeMaitre, an integral part of the deal is that Oclaro will guarantee the supply of laser diodes to Newport Spectra-Physics for its $1.5m laser system business. The agreement therefore dictates that Oclaro will be exclusive supplier of laser diodes to Newport Spectra-Physics for a year, followed by three years as the primary supplier.

• 3S Photonics of Nozay, France, is another diode supplier hoping to make the jump from telecoms to mainstream laser applications. At LASER 2009, the company was showcasing a 1064 nm laser diode capable of delivering up to 500 mW of CW power through a singlemode fibre. According to 3S, the module offers 30% more power than similar devices on the market, which the company says makes them ideal for use in fibre-laser systems.

• This story first appeared on our sister website, optics.org.

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