We at Laser Focus World saw several photonics business announcements come through our email inboxes, as well as via social media in March 2022. And, some of the announcements mentioned in this month’s roundup came out of the Optical Fiber Communication Conference (OFC), held in-person March 6-10 in San Diego, CA, after an all-virtual format in 2021.
So, with all there is to cover here, let’s get into it.
Acquisitions and strategies
Newly announced today (April 1st), medical, scientific, and industrial lasers developer Amplitude (Bordeaux, France) has merged its two North American divisions—Continuum Electro-Optics (Milpitas, CA) and Amplitude Laser (formerly of Cambridge, MA)—to become Amplitude Laser Inc. With the Amplitude Laser/Cambridge, MA operations now shuttered, the North American division of the now-Amplitude Laser Inc. will operate solely from its Milpitas, CA location. The Continuum name change to Amplitude Laser Inc. also eliminates all product branding confusion going forward.
Integrated optical communication products provider EFFECT Photonics (Eindhoven, Netherlands) will acquire coherent optical digital signal processing (DSP) and forward error correction (FEC) technology as well as a highly experienced engineering team from global communications company Viasat (Carlsbad, CA). From this acquisition, EFFECT Photonics will now own the entire coherent technology stack of all optical functions, including a high-performance tunable laser, together with DSP and FEC.
Wide-bandgap semiconductors maker II‐VI Incorporated (Pittsburgh, PA) is accelerating its investment in 150 mm and 200 mm silicon carbide (SiC) substrate and epitaxial wafer manufacturing with large-scale factory expansions in Easton, PA, and Kista, Sweden. To meet the accelerating global demand for SiC power electronics, II-VI will significantly build out its nearly 300,000 sq-ft. factory in Easton, to scale up the production of its 150 mm and 200 mm SiC substrates and epitaxial wafers. Easton’s 150 mm and 200 mm SiC substrate output is expected to reach the equivalent of 1 million 150 mm substrates annually by 2027, with the proportion of 200 mm substrates growing over time. The expansion of the epitaxial wafer capacity in Kista is aimed at serving the European market.
Matrox Imaging has entered into a definitive share purchase agreement with automatic identification and data capture (AIDC) specialist Zebra Technologies (Lincolnshire, IL), in which Zebra intends to acquire the Matrox Imaging division (Matrox Electronic Systems; Dorval, QC, Canada). The two companies have complementary machine vision and fixed industrial scanning portfolios, according to Lorne Trottier, president and cofounder of Matrox Imaging. (For more on the acquisition news, please read fellow brand Vision Systems Design’s editorial comment from editor in chief Chris McLoone.)
Molex (Lisle, IL) is ramping production of its 400G ZR QSFP-DD pluggable coherent optical transceivers to support ever-increasing demands for advanced Data Center Interconnect (DCI) solutions. The ramp-up will help enable mega-cloud datacenter operators to better address high-density, bandwidth-intensive applications, according to Joseph Chon, director, Coherent Technology and Product Line Management at Molex Optoelectronics. With the company’s 400G ZR QSFP-DD coherent optical transceivers, operators can connect datacenters within a region, enabling them to function as a single datacenter without the need for a separate transport box.
Naked Optics (Nokomis, FL) will now distribute finished infrared (IR) optics to ease supply chain constraints for its U.S. customers, including ITAR- and EAR-restricted programs. Offerings include diamond-turned and CNC-finished IR lenses; optical components and polished windows and substrates; and IR lenses in germanium, chalcogenide, zinc selenide, zinc sulfide, calcium fluoride, and barium fluoride.
NKT Photonics (Birkerød, Denmark) has divested its LIOS sensing business to Luna Innovations (Roanoke, VA), allowing NKT Photonics to fully focus on its core business within lasers and fiber-optic solutions to the medical and life science, quantum- and nanotechnology, industrial, and aerospace and defense markets. The divested activities comprise sales, development, and production, including the main site in Cologne, Germany, and the sales office in Portland, OR, and covers 66 employees.
Laser distributor RPMC Lasers (O’Fallon, MO) has developed a new supply chain and inventory strategy to help lessen the impact of worldwide supply chain issues. This includes doubling its existing inventory to help alleviate some of the extended lead times associated with the manufacturing of these devices, as well as increasing available product ranges from its key manufacturers.
Ultrafast laser maker Chromacity (Edinburgh, UK) has entered an agreement with photonics and quantum science consulting firm Tematys (Paris, France) to develop new industrial opportunities for its lasers in France. The collaboration between the two companies will facilitate the adoption of ultrafast lasers by industrial organizations seeking to develop new technologies for innovation within life sciences, manufacturing, and environmental sustainability.
EV Group (EVG; St. Florian, Austria), a supplier of wafer bonding and lithography equipment for the MEMS, nanotechnology, and semiconductor markets, and Teramount (Jerusalem, Israel), which offers scalable solutions for connecting optical fibers to silicon chips, have partnered to implement wafer-level optics for solving a major obstacle of silicon photonics, namely fiber chip packaging. The collaboration will leverage EVG’s nanoimprint lithography (NIL) technology, expertise, and services with Teramount’s PhotonicPlug technology.
Laser plastic welding specialist Evosys Laser (Erlangen, Germany) has strengthened its global presence in Poland and Turkey through partnerships with TRUmachines (Poznań, Poland) and Tamsa Makina (Istanbul, Turkey), allowing Evosys to offer better local support to its worldwide customers.
MICLEDI Microdisplays (Leuven, Belgium), which develops microLED arrays for augmented reality (AR) glasses, is collaborating with GlobalFoundries (Malta, NY) to enable AR glasses to achieve the brightness, resolution, power, size, and economies of scale needed to become affordable for consumers. Under the agreement, MICLEDI’s solution will be combined with GlobalFoundries’ 22FDX platform that provides the ultra-low power and broad feature integration capability needed to build MICLEDI’s microLED arrays in mass production.
In response to the growing dental laser market, Quantum Composers (Bozeman, MT) is manufacturing over 200 1064 flash lamp lasers for regenerative periodontal therapy specialist Millennium Dental Technologies (MDT; Cerritos, CA). MDT manufactures the PerioLase MVP-7 system to perform minimally invasive dental procedures, including the LANAP and LAPIP protocols, that replace conventional scalpel and suture surgery. Working closely with MDT, Quantum Composers produced and turned around a 6 W free-running variable pulsed Nd:YAG dental laser in under a year.
In another collaboration with GlobalFoundries, Ranovus (Kanata, ON, Canada) has introduced its Odin 100G optical I/O cores based on GF Fotonix, GlobalFoundries’ next-generation, widely disruptive, monolithic platform. GF Fotonix combines its differentiated 300 mm photonics and RF-CMOS features on a silicon wafer. Odin 100G optical I/O chiplets and IP cores can be integrated with processors, switches, and memory appliances to enable new datacenter architectures for machine learning, artificial intelligence, metaverse, cloud, 5G communications, and defense and aerospace.
Finetech USA (Mesa, AZ), which provides precision die bonders and advanced rework equipment, has added a Class 1000 (ISO 6) clean room to its U.S. facility in Amherst, NH. The building also houses the company’s Eastern sales and applications support team, as well as a demo room with several die bonders and rework systems.
As part of its continued expansion into North America, wafer-scale optics maker PowerPhotonic (Dalgety Bay, UK) has signed a long-term lease for manufacturing facilities in the Sahuarita Advanced Manufacturing and Technology Center in Sahuarita, AZ. The facility will enable the company to better support its customers, particularly those in the defense sector, that require U.S.-based design and manufacturing of key high-technology components and modules.
Funding and projects
Advanced flow cytometry technologies specialist Kinetic River (Mountain View, CA) has been awarded a $2.5 million Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant funded by the U.S. National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), which fosters development of innovative biomedical platforms. This is the fifth SBIR award received by the company to date and supports development of its Colorado autofluorescence-free flow cytometry platform for enhanced analytical sensitivity.
The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is funding a consortium led by quantum startup Q.ANT (Stuttgart, Germany) with 45 million euros; the consortium partners are contributing a further 8 million euros. The funding will be used to build a demonstration and test facility for photonic quantum computer chips and other quantum computing components. The consortium also includes the Institute of Applied Physics (IAP) at Friedrich Schiller University Jena and the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering (Fraunhofer IOF). Both are taking on development tasks worth 12.6 million euros in the project.
TOPTICA eagleyard (Berlin, Germany) and partners in the SIM-QPla research project are developing mobile detection methods for microplastics in water so that quantum photonics can be used for environmental sensor technology in the future. The project is focusing on analytical methods for treated wastewater. TOPTICA eagleyard’s role focuses on the development of hermetically sealed butterfly packages for mobile usage so that the detection of microplastic can be done on site. When the project concludes, laser modules for quantum sensor technology will be available for industry usage.
The University of Rochester’s Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE; Rochester, NY) has received $83 million in federal funding, thanks to continued support from NY Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and Rep. Joseph Morelle for fiscal year 2022. The lawmakers secured $82 million in the previous fiscal year and $80 million in fiscal 2020 and fiscal 2019. The federal funding will allow LLE to support operations and experiments on the Omega laser to make progress on the three most viable approaches to fusion.
People in the news
Edge AI semiconductor and software company Ambarella (Santa Clara, CA) has named Brian C. White as CFO, reporting directly to CEO Fermi Wang. Bringing more than 30 years of experience in finance, corporate strategy, business development, and public accounting, White most recently served as CFO at Maxim Integrated Products (San Jose, CA) from August 2019 through its merger with Analog Devices (Wilmington, MA) in August 2021.
FISBA LLC (Tucson, AZ), a wholly owned subsidiary of FISBA AG (St. Gallen, Switzerland), has made two personnel appointments: Joe Delfino as VP of sales and business development, a role in which he will lead the overall business development strategy and manage sales operations, and Mark Fink as general manager at the Tucson facility, where he will manage its personnel and perform technical/quality management of the site.
IPG Photonics (Oxford, MA) has appointed Agnes K. Tang and Felix Stukalin to its Board of Directors, increasing the Board size to 10 directors. Tang, a founding partner at Ducera Partners LLC (New York, NY), brings to the Board a combination of strategy, operational, and financial acumen and a commitment to partnership and collaboration. And Stukalin, who has been with IPG since March 2009 in various leadership roles, currently serves as the company’s senior vice president, chief operating officer (appointed in February 2022).
Low-intensity laser therapy systems manufacturer Meditech (Etobicoke, ON, Canada) has named Nicholas Olteanu, who has several years of experience working with medical device, pharmaceutical, and biotechnology companies in the U.S. and Canada, as its new CEO. He has led marketing strategy and implementation, regulatory affairs, business development, operations, financial management, and sales teams. Most recently, Olteanu was founder, CEO, and executive director of imaware (Austin, TX), a developer of automated home-based screening and monitoring blood tests.
Medical device technology partner Minnetronix Medical (St. Paul, MN) has named Travis Hintz vice president of operations, a role in which he will focus on scaling manufacturing and supply chain operations to support the company’s growing portfolio of customers. The company partners with more than 100 medical device companies within its four key technology segments: optical systems, RF energy, stimulation and active wearables, and fluid and gas management devices.
In another announcement from Naked Optics, the company has appointed Charlie Metzger as technical sales manager, a role in which he will lead the finished optics side of the business. Metzger, whose career in optics spans from manufacturing and operations to technical sales, specializes in optical fabrication for aerospace and defense, medical, commercial, and industrial markets.
Optical engineering innovator Aydogan Ozcan of the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) has been selected as the 2022 recipient of the Joseph Fraunhofer Award/Robert M. Burley Prize. Ozcan is honored for seminal contributions to computational optical imaging, lens-free microscopy, holography, and mobile optical sensing. He is currently the Chancellor’s Professor and the Volgenau Chair for Engineering Innovation at UCLA and an HHMI Professor with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (Chevy Chase, MD). He is also the Associate Director of the California NanoSystems Institute (Los Angeles).
Record orders, sales
Bold Laser Automation (Bedford, NH) has received its largest order to date—80 units total of its LBS355x, LBS266x, and LBS532x Series laser beam shapers. These shapers are a mix of Gaussian to round and Gaussian to square profile configurations, for use in imaging-based laser beam delivery systems for micromachining, wafer dicing, and microvia drilling.
Basler (Ahrensburg, Germany), which supplies image processing components for computer vision applications, has set new records for incoming orders and sales in its 2021 financial year. The company reported that its incoming orders increased by 78% to 322.5 million euros (previous year: 181.6 million), and sales grew by 26% to 214.7 million euros (previous year: 170.5 million).
Cailabs (Rennes, France) has won the 2021 Innovation Award given by APOLAN, an association in the passive optical local area network (POLAN) industry, for its AROONA module that converts multimode fibers into single-mode fibers. AROONA, already proven in a traditional LAN environment, avoids intrusive, complex, and expensive single-mode fiber deployments, as the existing multimode infrastructure can be easily optimized and sustained to support POLAN infrastructures.
The Ophir Optics Group, an MKS Instruments (Andover, MA) business, has been honored with a 2021 Gold Level Supplier Award from BAE Systems Electronic Systems (Nashua, NH), which develops and delivers advanced technology-led solutions for the commercial and military electronics markets. The award, announced on March 28th, acknowledges that Ophir provides consistent on-time product deliveries (specifically, advanced IR lenses for use in IR thermal imaging camera systems for ground forces) with 100% quality.
Employees at PicoQuant (Berlin, Germany), a photonic components and instruments maker, have raised more than 20,000 euros to provide financial support to the Ukrainian people suffering from the war in Ukraine. Within just two days, employees contributed more than 10,000 euros out of their own pockets and PicoQuant doubled this sum.
Would you like to be included in the April 2022 photonics business roundup? Contact me!