News Briefs

Compact photonics: Mediphotonics Development Company, (New York, NY), a subsidiary of Mediscience Technology (Cherry Hill, NJ), and the Infotonics Technology Center (Canandaigua, NY) have formed a collaborative R&D agreement to develop Mediscience's Compact Photonic Explorer (CPE), a miniature (pill-sized) remote-control device that travels through the digestive system and uses ultraviolet light to detect cancer or other abnormalities. The CPE will be commercialized by Mediscience for medical and nonmedical applications. Research is led by Robert Alfano and team at City University of New York.

20 years: When Peter Laakmann founded Synrad (Mukilteo, WA) two decades ago, a "cheap", low power industrial CO2 laser cost around $25,000, was over 4 feet long, and required an advanced technical degree to operate. He created Synrad to design industrial CO2 lasers that were compact, affordable, and easy to integrate, enabling the creation of a myriad of new markets and applications. Today Synrad is celebrating its 20th anniversary—and an installed base of 70,000 lasers. The first marketplace to take advantage of the Synrad sealed CO2 laser was the engraving industry; each year, more than 7000 CO2 lasers are sold for use in the creation of signs, awards, and decorative items.

Third round: Polatis (Cambridge, England), a supplier of ultra-low-loss optical switches, completed its third round of funding, attracting $9.4 million. The financing round was funded by the existing investor group, comprising of 3i, Alta Berkeley, EonTech Ventures and Prelude Trust plc. Polatis' photonic switch products utilize the patented micro-actuation and sensing system, which is based on technologies similar to those used in hard disk drives and inkjet printers.

Glass research: Lehigh University (Bethlehem, PA) received a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to establish an international research center supporting research into glass. The International Materials Institute for New Functionality in Glasses (IMI) will sponsor research into six new potential uses for glass: glassy metamaterials, including novel glasses and nanocomposites; functional coatings; glasses engineered for strength; ionic functionality; optical functionality; and biofunctionality. Applications of these include arrays of micro- and nanolenses, 3-D information storage, optical sensors and displays, glasses engineered for toughness, glass for DNA analysis, glass films for viewing x-rays, micro- and nano-electronics, glasses on which bacteria cannot grow, and glasses for hydrogen storage. The IMI, a collaboration between Lehigh and Penn State University (University Park, PA), will receive $3.25 million over the five-year lifetime of the NSF grant, which is renewable.

Filter patent: Optical-filter manufacturer Semrock (Rochester, NY) has been awarded U.S. Patent #6,809,859 covering the one-piece construction of its BrightLine fluorescence filters. According to the company, the construction—made possible by advances in thin-film filter technology—is key to achieving the high brightness and reliability of these filters.

First round: K2 Optronics (Sunnyvale, CA), a provider of lasers for the telecommunications, cable television, RF, sensing, and test and measurement industries, secured $6.4 million as part of its first closure of a third round of venture capital financing. This brings the total investment in K2 Optronics to more than $45 million. Leading investment firm Alloy Venture Partners led the investment round, along with major participation by existing investors Advent Venture Partners, Bessemer Venture Partners, Globespan Ventures, Sutter Hill Ventures, and The Photonics Fund.

Distribution pact: Luxtron Corporation (Santa Clara, CA), a provider of in-situ fiberoptic temperature solutions for semiconductor, optoelectronics, medical and industrial applications, appointed Lambda Photometric as distributor of its fiberoptic temperature measurement products in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Lambda Photometric will be responsible for the sale, distribution and support of Luxtron's Fluoroptic temperature measurement and optical fiber thermometry systems.

Applications lab: Color-change specialist Sherwood Technology (Chesire, England) has opened a new applications laboratory, designed to demonstrate future possibilities of laser marking, enabling current and potential licensees and end users to test the final results of using Sherwood's color-change technologies to mark their products using a wide range of lasers. Under appropriate secrecy agreements, prospective licensees are invited to share in early viewings of exciting new developments in laser imaging.

New president: Masanori "Mike" Nishiguchi has been appointed president and CEO of ExceLight Communications (Durham, NC), a subsidiary of Sumitomo Electric Industries (SEI) that provides optical components and modules to the telecom, CATV, broadband, and data communications markets. Nishiguchi holds a bachelor's, master's, and doctorate degree in applied physics from Osaka University, where he specialized in optical image processing and gallium arsenide (GaAs) integrated circuit reliability. He joined SEI as a researcher in medical sensors in 1982 and later helped SEI establish its GaAs fabrication plant. He has held various management positions with SEI in both Japan and the United States, dealing with technical marketing and strategic business development for optical communication components. He has been awarded more than 30 patents and has written over 20 technical papers, principally dealing with GaAs technology.

Laser donation: Spectra-Physics Lasers (Mountain View, CA), a division of Newport, is supporting education and research at the University of Arizona's Optical Sciences Center through a $1.6 million donation of laboratory equipment.The donation consists of specialized items of state-of-the-art laboratory equipment, including optical tables, microscopes, lasers, wire bonders, chillers, data acquisition units, fiber couplers, and burn-in systems. The Optical Sciences Center is in the process of building a large research and teaching addition to its facility on the University of Arizona campus.

Sales director: Silke Pflueger has been named North America sales director for Southampton Photonics (SPI; Southampton, England), a manufacturer of disruptive technology laser products in the milliwatt to kilowatt range for the industrial, aerospace, and communications markets. Pflueger has held various engineering and marketing positions in SDL's fiber laser group. After SDL merged with JDS Uniphase, she was product line manager for JDS Uniphase's commercial diode products. She will lead SPI's North America industrial fiber laser sales efforts.

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