Photonics business roundup: July 2022

Aug. 1, 2022
Let’s recap all the business announcements in photonics from July 2022.

Acquisitions

Headwall Photonics (Bolton, MA), which manufactures master holographic gratings, spectrographs, and spectrometers for OEM customers, has acquired Holographix (Hudson, MA), which focuses on micro- and nanostructure replication of photonic solutions for the life sciences, semiconductor, aerospace and defense, and metrology markets. With the acquisition, Holographix’s replication technology opens channels to new customers and markets for Headwall, as well as new products and capabilities for existing customers of both companies, explains Don Battistoni, president of Headwall. Further, the ability to fabricate high precision micro-lens arrays, structured diffusers, waveguides, and replicated mirrors opens the door to adjacent high-volume applications, he adds.

Instrument Systems (Munich, Germany), a manufacturer of high-precision spectroradiometers, cameras, and complex display and light measurement systems, has extended its display testing and optical measurement business segments through the acquisition of Kimsoptec (South Korea), a display measurement systems manufacturer and exclusive distributor of the Instrument Systems product portfolio in Korea since 2005.

MKS Instruments (Andover, MA) and Atotech (Berlin, Germany), which provides process chemicals technology and advanced electroplating solutions, have received unconditional merger approval from China’s State Administration for Market Regulation for MKS’ pending acquisition of Atotech. The transaction has now received all required regulatory clearances. The acquisition is anticipated to close on August 17, 2022.

Business wins

Adaptive optics specialist ALPAO (Montbonnot, France) has signed a contract to supply more than 30 deformable mirrors internationally, which will then be integrated in optical coherence tomography (OCT) systems. OCT, a noninvasive imaging technique primarily used by ophthalmologists, allows observation of the structure of the eye, especially the interior of the retina. This allows some diseases to then be detectedand treatedat earlier stages. The deformable mirrors will correct optical aberrations and in turn improve the resolution of the cameras used in OCT imaging systems.

As part of the Welsh Government’s efforts to ensure all residents have access to fast and reliable digital infrastructure, EFFECT Photonics (Eindhoven, Netherlands) is assisting with the roll out of 5G Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) services in hard-to-reach areas in Wales. Led by Vodafone (Berkshire, U.K.), the project seeks to deliver broadband connectivity to 422 households in Anglesey, an island off the northwest coast of Wales. The project will be carried out over two phases during an 18-month period. It is supported by the government’s Local Broadband Fund (LBF) as well as the Isle of Anglesey County Council and North Wales Economic Ambition Board.

Resolve Optics (Chesham, U.K.) has received an order from a leading aerospace company to design and supply an optimized wide waveband lens for a multispectral microscope required for a Moon exploration mission. Due for delivery and launch in 2024, a new solar-powered land rover dubbed Lunar Vertex will explore the Reiner Gamma swirl, one of the most distinctive natural features and so-called “magnetic anomalies” on the Moon. The mission will conduct complementary investigations both from the lander and from the rover that will explore just over a mile of the 43-mile wide surface feature. The Lunar Vertex payload includes an ion-electron plasma spectrometer and cameras that will remain on the lander, magnetometers on both the lander and rover, and a multispectral microscope on the rover.

VIGO System (Ozarow Mazowiecki, Poland), which manufactures advanced photonic mid-infrared detectors, detection modules, and semiconductor materials, achieved approximately PLN 20.3 million in sales revenue in Q2 2022, an increase of 12.7% on the same period last year. The quarter marks the second best in the company's history in terms of revenue, owing to the consistently implemented growth strategy adopted in 2021. The company recorded higher revenues in Q4 2021 when it achieved PLN 22.3 million in revenues, which was mainly influenced by the execution of orders in the detector segment for two customers from the security systems and defense industries.

Expansions and investments

In other news for Headwall Photonics, the company has made a strategic growth investment in perClass BV (Delft, Netherlands), developer of the perClass Mira spectral analysis software package that integrates with various spectral sensors and enables intuitive spectral imaging analysis for advanced machine vision applications in research, industrial, and various commercial deployments. Both companies are focused on bringing hyperspectral imaging to more industries and researchers globally by introducing more intuitive yet powerful spectral analysis workflows and by eliminating the data interpretation complexities that have historically limited broader hyperspectral imaging adoption.

Jenoptik (Jena, Germany), which manufactures smart mobility solutions, is expanding its road safety project in Uzbekistan that started in 2018. Together with its partner Atlas International, Jenoptik already delivered a mixture of more than 200 mobile and stationary speed enforcement systems to the Uzbekistan Ministry of Interior along with accompanying project consultation and a full range of trainings to improve service and maintenance efficiencies. Following the successful implementation of intelligent road safety systems, the Uzbek Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Information and Communication has now ordered additional 150 systems with a value in the mid-single digit million Euro range. The new contract has also been extended with “smart city” components, covering new types of violations such as illegal turns and lane changes.

Advanced photonics and microelectronic device packaging solutions provider Palomar Technologies (Carlsbad, CA) has expanded its Innovation Center in Singapore to meet a growing demand in Southeast Asia for process development and specialty outsourced semiconductor assembly and test (OSAT) for advanced semiconductor new product introductions. The company opened this center in November of 2018 to address a vital market need for process development, device package prototyping, test and measurement, process maturation, and low-volume production. In 2019, market demand pushed the company to make its first expansion; now, this second expansion will serve to host plasma cleaning, dry boxes, and customer-specific test equipment while the original lab area will continue to host the die attach, wire bond, and vacuum reflow equipment, according to Rich Hueners, managing director of Palomar Technologies (SE Asia) Pte Ltd.

Continuing its rapid growth trajectory, photonic integrated circuits manufacturer PHIX (Enschede, Netherlands) has secured a new €3 million investment split between €1.5 million in equity and €1.5 million in loans for new equipment. With the investment, the company is able to further develop its automated packaging capabilities and increase capacity to continue to support the rapid growth of their existing and new customers.

Quantum processors producer QuiX Quantum (Enschede, Netherlands) has secured a €5.5 million seed round investment from PhotonDelta, FORWARD.one, and Oost NL. The funding will help QuiX to launch a full-system photonic quantum computer based on its 20 qumode processor in early 2023 and launch a next-generation 50 qumode processor in 2023. Increasing the number of qumodes from 20 to 50 takes the quantum machine from the equivalent of a laptop to a supercomputer.

People in the news

Meta-optics developer Metalenz (Cambridge, MA) has appointed Lars Johnsson as vice president of product, marketing, and business development and Hao Zhou as head of sales in Asia. Johnsson will lead all aspects of the company’s product strategy and revenue generation in his new role, drawing on over 20 years of bringing new and disruptive products to market. As head of sales in Asia, Zhou will use his rich insights and connections in consumer electronics to drive consumer engagement and revenue generation in the Greater China region. He brings decades of experience in the optoelectronic industry selling advanced optical components, modules, and systems.

Matt Eichenfield, a Distinguished Member of the Technical Staff at Sandia National Laboratories (Albuquerque, NM), has joined the University of Arizona’s Wyant College of Optical Sciences (Tucson, AZ) as the inaugural SPIE Endowed Chair in Optical Sciences. The $2 million endowed position was established with a $500,000 gift from SPIE that was matched by a factor of three with funds donated by Wyant College founding dean James C. Wyant and his family. The University of Arizona endowed chair was also the inaugural gift of the SPIE Endowment Matching Program.

Strategic partnerships

Optical and infrared (IR) technologies provider LightPath Technologies (Orlando, FL) and QuantLR (Jerusalem, Israel), a quantum technology company that enables global mass deployment of quantum cryptography, will partner to develop a free-space quantum encryption system. Stemming from a joint program between Space Florida and the Israeli Innovation Authority, the two companies will develop ground-to-satellite, ground-to-air, ground-to-ground, and satellite-to-satellite free-space optical communication channels, which will be used for a generation of quantum encryption keys, enabling secure quantum key distribution (QKD). It is intended that this project can then be further developed for use in high-rate data transmission, optical communication both between satellite and ground station, as well as satellite-to-satellite communications.

Lightsense Technology (Tucson, AZ), which develops multispectral solutions to address large problems in public health, and Severn Safety Supply (Benicia, CA), which supplies solutions for law enforcement organizations across the U.S., have entered a strategic partnership to help bring the newly launched DrugDetect-F1 handheld fentanyl and methamphetamine detector to markets in specific areas of North America. The multispectral detector platform can help with the opioid epidemic by providing a new tool for law enforcement to determine whether a threat is present, even through thin transparent packaging.

In the next five years, the demand for automotive LiDAR in advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) applications will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 94%. Recognizing this, MRSI Systems (Tewksbury, MA), which supplies high-accuracy die bonders and fully automatic chip assembling solutions, and Lumentum (San Jose, CA), which supplies photonic chips and modules for the automotive LiDAR industry, will collaborate to provide high-reliability photonic chip assembly solutions and services for the automotive LiDAR industry. Dr. Limin Zhou, MRSI’s senior director of strategic marketing, will present on the collaboration between the two companies at the Compound Semiconductor Advanced Technology & Application Conference, to take place August 3-4, 2022, in Suzhou, China.

Laser maker TRUMPF (Ditzingen, Germany) and Cellforce (Tübingen, Germany), which manufactures high-performance battery cells for electromobility (e-mobility), will partner to produce lithium-ion cells. Cellforce, a joint venture between Porsche and CUSTOMCELLS Holding, will use TRUMPF lasers to produce the cells.

The W. M. Keck Observatory (Waimea, HI) and ALPAO have partnered to develop an upgraded adaptive optics system for the Keck II 10-meter telescope on Mauna Kea, HI. The project, called HAKA (High order All-sky Keck Adaptive optics), includes the design, production, test, and delivery of a large, high-density, high-frequency deformable mirror based on ALPAO’s electromagnetic technology. Both teams’ adaptive optics expertise will advance the techniques used to correct the blurring of astronomical images caused by turbulence in the Earth’s atmosphere.

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About the Author

Lee Dubay | Managing Editor

Lee Dubay is a seasoned editor and digital content manager with 20 years of experience in technology B2B media. She specializes in digital content management, as well as website analytics, SEO, and social media engagement best practices. 

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