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Kopin acquires Forth Dimension Displays

12 Jan 2011

Massachusetts company buys Scottish producer of ferroelectric reflective microdisplays, complementing its existing line of transmissive products.

Kopin Corporation, the Taunton, Masachusetts, manufacturer of high-end semiconductors and microdisplays, has paid an initial $11 million in cash to buy out Scotland’s Forth Dimension Displays (FDD).

Like Kopin, FDD makes microdisplays, but using a different technology – Kopin’s are based on transmissive optics, whereas FDD’s use ferroelectric reflective technology. The deal includes an earn-out clause worth up to $7 million if certain revenue milestones are met during 2011, while all FDD’s key employees will be joining Kopin.

John Fan, the Kopin CEO, acknowledged that the complementary technology was a crucial factor in the acquisition, putting his company in a unique competitive position: “Kopin is the leading transmissive microdisplay company in the world, and with this acquisition we will be the only microdisplay manufacturer that can offer complete system solutions with either reflective or transmissive liquid crystal[s].”

As well as being complementary in terms of the optical technology employed, the acquisition will provide Kopin with access to some adjacent markets. The US company has shipped some 30 million microdisplays for both consumer and military applications – and used in products ranging from digital cameras and camcorders to thermal weapon sights and night vision systems.

Sophisticated profiling
FDD’s microdisplays have found uses in a wide range of applications themselves, including high-end cinema, 3D metrology and also medical imaging – for example in Leica Microsystems’ DCM 3D system for sophisticated optical profiling. Clever use of the FDD technology allows a combination of interferometric and confocal profiling techniques within the same system, meaning that a user can combine visual observation with spectroscopic reflectometry to make both thin-film and multi-layer measurements of many kinds of surface.

In the past year, FDD has registered sales of about $6 million, with Greg Truman, the company’s CEO, indicating strong traction in the film industry: “[Forth] has enjoyed a very successful 2010, with design wins with several high-performance cinematography manufacturers,” he said.

FDD’s displays use liquid-crystal on silicon (LCOS) technology featuring a very fast switching speed, with the microdisplay acting like a combination of a mirror and a quarter-wave plate, in tandem with a polarizing beam splitter.

Aside from the existing applications, the company anticipates future uses of the displays in holographic data storage and high-quality digital printing.

Forth Dimension Displays will be attending the forthcoming Photonics West exhibition running 25-27 January at the Moscone Center, San Francisco, and can be found at booth #2223.

ECOPTIKOmicron-Laserage Laserprodukte GmbHAlluxaCHROMA TECHNOLOGY CORP.TRIOPTICS GmbHHyperion OpticsIDS Imaging Development Systems
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