Imaging & Detector Industry Report

March 1, 2004
Blue LED inventor wins in Japanese court; Newport enters spectroscopy market; BAE wins $4.5 million Army contract; MORE...

Blue LED inventor wins in Japanese court

A Japanese court ordered Nichia (Tokyo) to pay a record 20 billion yen (US$189 million) to Shuji Nakamura, the inventor of the Blu-ray blue LED technology. It was the largest payment ever awarded in Japan for a lawsuit of this kind.

Nakamura, who worked for 20 years at Nichia and is now a professor at the University of California at Santa Barbara, filed his lawsuit in 2001, saying he was not sufficiently compensated for the profits his invention brought the company. Nichia, which has made millions of dollars each year because of the invention, argued that the patent belonged to the company. While the court awarded Nakamura the $189 million he had sought in the lawsuit, it noted that his contribution was worth about three times that. In September, the district court ruled that Nichia, not Nakamura, is the rightful owner of the patent.

Newport enters spectroscopy market

Newport (Irvine, CA) has expanded into the spectroscopy and applied spectroscopy markets with the launch of a family of turnkey spectrometers, light sources, and fiber-based accessories. According to Ron Hartmayer, director of marketing for photonics products at Newport, spectroscopic instrumentation is an "obvious and natural" progression for Newport on several fronts.

"We have long been supporting this market at the component-level optics and high-performance optomechanical assemblies, and all the core technologies deployed in these instruments are already strongly represented at Newport," he said. "Newport has a history of supporting growing markets with integrated solutions that simplify the implementation of disparate photonic components."

BAE wins $4.5 million Army contract

BAE Systems (Lexington, MA) has been awarded a three-year, $4.5 million contract by the Department of the Interior for the U. S. Army to improve producibility and lower the cost of IR focal-plane arrays. According to the company, the BAE IR Imaging Systems (IRIS) group was the first to develop and demonstrate a small-pixel, uncooled IR camera, making television-like imagery possible. Applications for the sensors include soldier weapon sights, air and wheeled vehicle-mounted sensor packages, surveillance cameras, ultra-low-cost missile seekers, and first-responders imaging cameras. The uncooled technology is already replacing cooled IR detectors in many applications, including the new Precision Guidance Set Sensor for the Joint Direct Attack Munition.

e2v supplies sensors for European space mission

e2v Technologies (Chelmsford, England) supplied the CCD-based image sensors being used by the European Space Agency in the Rosetta mission to the Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko, which launched from its French Guiana spaceport in February. Rosetta will travel with the comet for 12 months to study and record changes to its nucleus en route to the sun, with the e2v sensors helping to navigate the spacecraft and capture images.

The company's front-illuminated CCD47-20s are being used in the spacecraft's navigation system. In addition, e2v designed and manufactured special versions of its back-illuminated CCD42-40 sensors for use in Rosetta's OSIRIS (Optical, Spectroscopic and Infrared Remote Imaging System) camera. Once in orbit around the comet, the Rosetta lander will anchor itself on the comet's icy surface for more detailed surveying and the chance to transmit additional images back to Earth. Rosetta, which is due to reach Churyumov-Gerasimenko in 2014, will also record scientific data on Mars and at least one asteroid.

Also in the news . . .

PerkinElmer (Wellesley, MA, and Fremont, CA) signed an exclusive agreement with General Electric (Fairfield, CT) to supply PerkinElmer's amorphous-silicon digital-flat-panel x-ray detector technology to GE Medical Systems (GEMS) and GE Aircraft Engines (GEAE). PerkinElmer will be the sole provider of this technology to GEMS and GEAE for five years, a deal estimated to include more than $250 million of purchases by GE. . . . Osram (Munich, Germany) signed a cross-licensing agreement with Lite-On Technology (Taiwan) granting Lite-On a royalty-bearing license to manufacture and sell surface-mount, light-emitting diodes, and white LEDs with conversion technology, for which Osram holds patents. . . . The Aktelux division of Luxell Technologies (Toronto) signed a memorandum of understanding with B&A Avionics (St. Truiden, Belgium) to explore new business opportunities through the design and development of a family of multifunction displays.

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