News Briefs

Telecom merger: Bookham (San Jose, CA) and Avanex (Fremont, CA) reached a definitive agreement to merge in an all-stock transaction.

Telecom merger: Bookham (San Jose, CA) and Avanex (Fremont, CA) reached a definitive agreement to merge in an all-stock transaction. Avanex shareholders will receive 5.426 shares of Bookham common stock for every share of Avanex common stock and will own approximately 46.75% of the combined company. It is expected that the combination will be Adjusted EBITDA accretive in the first full quarter after the close of the transaction and will generate $7 million of quarterly cost savings by the end of the fourth full quarter after the close. The new company will have a stronger balance sheet, benefiting from combined cash balances and no outstanding debt. Restructuring costs associated with the transaction are expected to be less than $7 million.

Supercontinuum advance: Ultrafast fiber laser manufacturer Fianium (Southampton, England) unveiled a new type of photonic crystal fiber (PCF), which it says is the early fruits of its strategic collaboration with the University of Bath. The new, patent-protected fiber design is exclusive to Fianium and is integral to its ongoing new product development strategy as it strives to extend its market and technology leadership in supercontinuum fiber lasers. Fianium says it has been able to discover many limitations and shortcomings of traditional fiber lasers, creating a new PCF design that enables development of better performing, more stable, and more cost-effective supercontinuum laser solutions.

Semiconductor plant closings: Silicon chip-maker Intel (Santa Clara, CA), disclosed plans to restructure some of its manufacturing operations and align its manufacturing capacity to current market conditions. The company will consolidate and streamline some older capacity without impacting the deployment of new, leading-edge 45 nm and 32 nm manufacturing capacity. It plans to close two existing assembly test facilities in Penang, Malaysia and one in Cavite, Philippines, and will halt production at Fab 20, an older 200 mm wafer fabrication facility in Hillsboro, OR. Additionally, wafer production operations will end at the D2 facility in Santa Clara. The actions will take place through the end of 2009 and are expected to affect between 5,000–6,000 employees worldwide, although some employees may be offered positions at other facilities.

High-speed video: Discovery Channel’s new series Time Warp uses new high-speed imaging technologies to deliver videos that allow you to understand the processes at work, such as a video in which a Photron (San Diego, CA) high-speed camera captures a whip blowing out a candle and the shock wave that follows. As more videos become available, they will be posted to the video player on the Laser Focus World website (www.laserfocusworld.com) and can be viewed by clicking the VIDEO link on the navigation bar at the top of our home page. We welcome videos of interesting photonic technologies; please see the video player for instructions on how your company or institution can contribute!

POF funding: Firecomms (Cork, Ireland), a provider of high-speed plastic optical fiber (POF) components, closed a $5 million dollar funding round that includes significant investments from Swisscom and Alps Electric. “Already an adopter of Firecomms’ [Internet protocol television] IPTV interconnect technology, Swisscom has first-hand experience with the advantages of Plastic Optical Fiber in the home,” says Firecomms’ CEO Declan O’Mahoney. “As Swisscom is an innovative leader in IPTV deployment, this investment is a huge validation of our home networking technology and it will enable us to continue to expand our business with Telcos all over the world.”

OLED funding: Novaled AG (Dresden, Germany), a producer of organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) for lighting and display products, closed its third round of financing with $11.0 million dollars (8.5 million Euros), exclusively provided by existing shareholders of the company. Participants in this round were eCAPITAL, TechnoStart, KfW and TUDAG, all from Germany, as well as Credit Agricole Private Equity, TechFund and CDC Innovation, all from France. Novaled will use the proceeds of this financing round to extend the commercialization of its energy-saving Novaled p-i-n OLED technology in the lighting and display field.

Better polishing techniques: In Cooperation with the Swedish Halmstad University and the steel manufacturer Uddeholm Tooling AB, the Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology IPT (Aachen, Germany) is planning a new initiative on the subject of “polishing”. The aim of this work between industry and research institutes is to encourage the intense exchange of experiences in order to lead, for example, to the definition of surface quality standards, the testing of new measuring systems, and the improvement of polishing techniques. Interested companies and scientists involved in steel polishing are welcome to join in the discussion. Round-table discussions, seminars, and workshops will take place over the next two years.

Display shipments down: In December 2008, shipments of large-area thin-film-transistor liquid-crystal display (TFT LCD) panels reached the lowest level since May 2007, according to DisplaySearch’s (Austin, TX) Monthly TFT LCD Shipment Database. Shipments were nearly 27 million units, down 6% month over month (M/M) and 24% year over year (Y/Y). December revenue for large-area TFT LCD panels fell to $3.0 billion, down 22% M/M and 57% Y/Y, the lowest level since July 2006. Panel demand has weakened significantly in all three of the major TFT LCD applications: notebook PCs, monitors, and TVs. A combination of slow demand and the tendency of leading brands to favor internal sources of supply has led to loss of market share.

Merger in question: Electro Scientific Industries (ESI; Portland, OR), a provider of world-class photonic and laser microengineering systems, announced that Zygo Corporation (Middlefield, CT), a supplier of optical metrology instruments, precision optics, and electro-optical design and manufacturing services, has notified ESI that the board of directors of Zygo has withdrawn its recommendation in favor of the previously announced merger agreement with ESI. ESI is surprised and disappointed by the Zygo Board’s decision. ESI does not agree with the Zygo Board’s conclusion, and is evaluating its alternatives under the merger agreement.

Laser acupuncture study: MedX Health (Mississauga, ON, Canada), a developer of non-invasive low-level laser and light therapy for tissue repair and pain relief, received FDA Institutional Review Board approval to study the effectiveness of laser acupuncture for addiction to nicotine, alcohol, and drugs. This study, to be launched in both Canada and the U.S., will be an open, multi-center trial treating patients with addictions to assess the effectiveness of using the MedX laser probe as a means of controlling the need for these substances. “While the use of laser therapy in addiction is not a new concept, it has not been well-documented and it is important that MedX conduct these meaningful studies to confirm the efficacy of our laser and established treatment protocols for these addictions,” said Steve Guillen, president and CEO of MedX Health.

Fiber development agreements: IMRA America (Ann Arbor, MI), developer of ultrafast fiber lasers, and Crystal Fibre A/S, part of NKT Photonics (Birkerod, Denmark), manufacturer of specialty fiber for industrial and scientific markets, have signed a license agreement for IMRA fiber technology. In the agreement, IMRA licenses and provides CRYSTAL FIBRE with the freedom to use a large portfolio of IMRA patents related to fiber components and lasers. IMRA is also open to licensing users of CRYSTAL FIBRE products seeking to develop and market multimode fiber lasers with single mode output as described in the key IMRA patent, US 5,818,630.

In addition, IMRA and TEEM Photonics (Meylan, France), a developer of microchip lasers for industrial and scientific markets, have signed a license agreement for IMRA high-power fiber technology as it relates to TEEM products. In the agreement, IMRA licenses TEEM a large portfolio of IMRA patents related to fiber lasers and amplifiers and specifically US 5,818,630. Antoine Kevorkian, CEO of Teem Photonics, said, “Our passively Q-switched picolasers enable a wide range of industrial and medical applications. The intellectual property we are licensing from IMRA provides a logical next step for increasing the power of our lasers, broadening the applications that our core technology can serve.”

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