News Briefs

May 1, 2007

Display partnership: Light Blue Optics (LBO; Cambridge, England), developer of miniature holographic laser projection systems, announced an exclusive development partnership with microdisplay manufacturers Displaytech (Longmont, CO) in which Displaytech will develop and manufacture an ultra-compact, efficient, low-cost, fast-switching ferroelectric liquid crystal on silicon (FLCOS) microdisplay device exclusively for LBO. LBO’s CEO Chris Harris said, “Our partnership with Displaytech builds on both companies’ core competencies-LBO’s command of holographic laser projection technology and Displaytech’s proven track record of bringing quality, low cost microdisplays to high volume markets. We believe that this is the beginning of a highly productive, long-term relationship that will enable LBO to become the world’s leading supplier of miniature projection systems.”

French connection: In a move to strengthen its position on the French market, Laser Components GmbH (Olching, Germany) acquired the remaining shares of Optophotonics S.A. (Paris, France), making it a wholly owned subsidiary. To profit from a unified corporate appearance the company has changed its name to Laser Components S.A.S. and will move into a larger facility located in the South of Paris. This much-needed expansion will also bring the company closer to its main customer base. All these changes are supervised by Christian Merry, who has been appointed as the new general manager and brings more than 20 years of experience in the photonics industry.

Laser diode distribution: Photonic Products (Hatfield Broad Oak, England), optoelectronics device manufacturer and laser diode specialist, has been appointed by Ondax (Monrovia, CA) as authorized European distributor for its wavelength-stabilized laser diodes. The diodes are stabilized using the Ondax volume holographic grating (VHG) PowerLocker for applications including storage, metrology, bio-instrumentation, analytical instrumentation, sensing, flow cytometry, and graphic arts. “We are delighted to supplement our current range of high-performance laser diodes from Sanyo, Sony and Opnext with these PowerLocker diodes from Ondax,” said Tony Wright, director of sales for Photonic Products.

Laser military communications: The Lockheed Martin/Northrop Grumman (Redondo Beach, CA) Transformational Satellite Communications System (TSAT) team announced that functional interoperability aspects of its laser communications risk reduction subsystem have been evaluated in a test conducted at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Lincoln Laboratory (MIT/LL). The testing demonstrated the operation of the laser communication hardware and software at 2.5, 10 and 40 Gbps. TSAT is the military’s next-generation protected, wideband satellite communications system for military and intelligence users. Using high-speed optical communications (lasercom), Internet Protocol network routing, and communications-on-the-move capability, TSAT will provide a dramatic increase in connectivity, speed, and mobility for future warfighters.

Turbulence laser milestone: The Northrop Grumman (Redondo Beach, CA)-built Beacon Illuminator Laser (BILL), which is part of the targeting system for the U.S. Missile Defense Agency’s Airborne Laser (ABL) aircraft, has shown high reliability during ground tests that began in July 2006 and in flight tests initiated late last year.

In-flight firings (contained within the aircraft) consistently lasted longer than 90 seconds, reaching the same power level achieved during ground tests. Throughout the stressing flight environment that included take-off and landing, BILL maintained better-than-required tolerances for target engagement. BILL is a solid-state, kilowatt-class laser that will measure atmospheric conditions, allowing the beam control/fire control system to compensate for atmospheric turbulence that the missile-killing megawatt-class chemical laser would encounter in its path to a target.

Laser-marking patent: DataLase (Widnes, England) was granted a European patent that covers its pigment that forms the basis of its laser-marking products for primary and secondary packaging, DataLase PACKMARK and DataLase CASEMARK flexo and tape. The DataLase process features the patented pigment, which undergoes a color change reaction from white to black to form a positive image once exposed to a computer-controlled, low-power CO2 laser. The process requires no inks, ribbons or other costly consumables, making it much simpler, cheaper and more environmentally friendly than traditional printing techniques.

UV fiber laser shipments: Newport Corporation (Irvine, CA) announced that its Fiber Laser Business Group shipped the first units of a new laser system based on its fiber technology platform to select international customers. This new laser system operates in the ultraviolet (UV) wavelength range. Its combination of picosecond pulse operation, high UV power and excellent beam quality enables it to perform processes such as cutting, dicing, scribing and ablation with higher precision and less damage to the material. Robert G. Deuster, Newport chairman and CEO said, “Newport has a unique position as one of the industry’s only vertically integrated laser suppliers, with expertise in diode lasers and high-precision optics and coatings, and industry-leading capabilities in high-efficiency frequency conversion.”

3-D solar images: NASA’s Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory (STEREO) satellites have provided the first three-dimensional (3-D) images of the sun. This new view will greatly aid scientists’ ability to understand solar physics and thereby improve space weather forecasting. STEREO can see the sun in several different wavelengths and temperatures; each wavelength allows scientists to see different features on the sun, and is the third mission in NASA’s Solar Terrestrial Probes program (STP). This two-year mission, launched in October 2006, will provide a unique and revolutionary view of the Sun-Earth System. The two nearly identical observatories-one ahead of Earth in its orbit, the other trailing behind-will trace the flow of energy and matter from the Sun to Earth.

Wafer-scribing injunction: New Wave Research (Fremont, CA) announced today that Taipei District Court issued a preliminary injunction ruling against Laser Solutions, a Japanese producer of microelectronic manufacturing equipment. The ruling prohibits Laser Solutions’ RAPYULAS MP-T1030 and MPT-2030 equipments from being manufactured, sold, offered for sale, used or imported before an irrevocable final judgment on merits has rendered contradictorily. The ruling refers to New Wave Research’s claim for recovery on Laser Solutions infringement of New Wave Research’s patented AccuScribe systems technology, Taiwan patent No. 194157 entitled “Scribing Sapphire Substrates With a Solid State UV Laser,” a blue LED wafer-scribing product family.

MEMS patent infringement: SAES Getters (Milan, Italy) has sued Innovative Micro Technology (IMT; Santa Barbara, CA) for patent infringement. In its complaint, SAES Getters asserts that IMT infringes U.S. Patent No. 6,897,551 with its recently announced PageWafer getter deposition services for wafer-level packaging of MEMS. PageWafer technology consists of a wafer with a patterned getter film, a few microns thick, that is placed onto specific cavities of any shape and depth. By providing maximized sorption of all active gases like H2O, O2, CO, CO2, N2 and H2, PageWafer guarantees long-term stability to vacuum or to inert gas atmosphere in wafer-to-wafer hermetically bonded MEMS devices.

Laser-scanning leader: For the fourth consecutive year, Spar Point Research (Danvers, MA) analysts validated that in the laser scanning market, Leica Geosystems (Norcross, GA) has the largest market share. Managing partner and senior SPAR analyst Tom Greaves estimated that Leica Geosystems captured 41% of the market among more than a dozen vendors in this laser-scanning sector. Throughout the recent SPAR 2007 conference in Houston, TX, more than 50 percent of presenters illustrated how Leica Geosystems’ laser scanning technology is an integral part of their varied civil infrastructure from plant to building applications. Leica Geosystems participated in the show’s first-ever forensic and security metrology conference, an event that focused on the benefits of advanced laser scanning and related technologies for crime scene investigations.

E-paper agreement: Nemoptic (Magny les Hameaux, France), an e-paper display company for consumer and professional handheld devices, has agreed to subcontract its manufacturing to Seiko Instruments (SII; Akita, Japan). Nemoptic will grant SII access to its BiNem technology, enabling SII to produce high volumes of Nemoptic’s bistable LCD display modules. The e-paper displays are available in black and white, gray scale, or full-color rendering. Manufacturing will take place at SII’s Microtechno plant in Akita, Japan, which has a worldwide reputation as one of the most modern sites for high-volume production of color super-twist nematic liquid crystal displays (CSTN-LCD). First units will appear from the plant at end Q2 2007.

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