Spending cuts: According to news reports, U.S. President George Bush wants to cut $13.6 million in federal funding from the High Energy Laser Systems Test Facility (HELSTF) at White Sands Missile Range (New Mexico). The reduced funding is part of the proposed 2008 federal budget recently submitted to Congress. Bush’s request is to cut the HELSTF funding for research, development, testing, and evaluation from $16.4 million this year to $2.8 million for the 2008 fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1. Sens. Pete Domenici, R-N.M. and Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., told reporters they have “serious concerns” about the lower funding level for HELSTF, which supports the overall White Sands Missile Range test mission. If the cuts are made, as many as 110 civilian contractor positions might have to be eliminated by the end of the year, although no military positions would be lost. The U.S. Senate’s Defense Appropriations Subcommittee was scheduled to conduct a hearing on the proposed budget cuts on Feb. 28 to question U.S. Army Strategic Defense Command officials about the cutbacks.
Defense contract: QPC Lasers (Sylmar, CA) is partnering with Northrop Grumman Space Technology Cutting Edge Optronics for integration of QPC’s high-power diode lasers. The integrated lasers include QPC’s proprietary BrightLase and internal grating semiconductor laser technology and expand QPC’s product line to include high power water cooled laser modules and turn-key systems. The modules feature high spectral brightness and stability for high-efficiency pumping of Er:YAG high energy lasers at eye-safe wavelengths for directed-energy weapons development.
Undersea lasers:Tyco Telecommunications has selected Bookham’s (San Jose, CA) 980-nm OceanBright pump laser technology for deployment in its undersea cable systems. The products will be used in erbium doped fiber amplifiers (EDFAs), which are, in turn, incorporated into repeaters that form a critical element of undersea cable systems around the world. Tyco Telecommunications has been using Bookham chip technology since 1999; the latest pump module in the OceanBright portfolio incorporates the Bookham generation eight-laser chip, a continuation of a previous generation of laser chips qualified for submarine use. According to the company, it is capable of exceeding 400mW at operating temperatures of 0°C to 45°C.
More consolidation:Labsphere (North Sutton, NH), a designer and manufacturer of light measurement technology, has been acquired by Halma, a leading safety, health, and sensor technology group based in the United Kingdom. Labsphere will join Halma’s global group of photonics businesses. Founded in 1979, Labsphere produces light testing and measurement equipment. The company’s products include LED, laser, and traditional light source light measurement systems; uniform light sources for imaging device calibration; spectroscopy accessories; and high diffuse reflectance materials and coatings for applications in backlit panel displays, computed radiography, and system calibration. Labsphere joins Ocean Optics and Mikropack GmbH in the photonics sector of the health and analysis business group at Halma.
Litigation resolved:Ultrafast eye-laser manufacturer IntraLase (Irvine, CA) has ntered into an agreement with Escalon Medical Corp. (Wayne, PA) to settle all outstanding disputes and litigation between the parties. Under the agreement, IntraLase will make a lump sum payment to Escalon of $9.6 million; in exchange, all pending litigation between the parties will be dismissed, the parties will exchange general releases, full ownership of all patents and intellectual property formerly licensed from Escalon will be obtained by IntraLase, and all IntraLase obligations under the parties’ license agreement will terminate. The payment will also satisfy any outstanding royalties owed or alleged to be owed by IntraLase to Escalon, including disputed royalties, fourth quarter 2006 royalties and all future royalties.
OIDA seminar: The Optoelectronics Industry Development Association (OIDA; Washington, D.C.) is hosting an executive forum, “Working with the Government,” during the upcoming OFC/NFOEC conference in Anaheim, CA. Designed specifically for optoelectronics companies seeking R & D government funding, “Working with the Government” is designed to guide attendees toward successfully identifying, developing, bidding on, and winning government work. Featuring former DARPA program management, Congressional staffers, and OIDA staff with experience at NIST, this seminar also brings presenters from the legal, professional, and technical community with outstanding credentials and experience in marketing ideas to the government and writing winning proposals. For more information, www.oida.org.
Exclusive rights:The Zecotek Laser Systems Singapore subsidiary of Zecotek Medical Systems (Vancouver, BC, Canada) has signed letters of intent with two Russian-based laser manufacturers to acquire exclusive rights to certain assets and expertise in consideration for minority interests in Zecotek Laser Systems Singapore. Zecotek Laser Systems Singapore has signed letters of intent with Inversion Fiber Co. Ltd. and Tekhnoscan JS Co., both based in Novosibirsk, Russia. According to Faouzi Zerrouk, Zecotek chairman, president, and CEO, the acquisitions mark an important milestone is Zecotek’s objective of becoming a leading bio-photonic company. The addition of production and manufacturing expertise will also accelerate market entry of Zecotek’s line of laser crystal and laser system products which are in the final stages of commercial development including diode-pumped solid state lasers and fiber lasers for use in bio-instrumentation, dentistry, and ophthalmology.
New name:ICx Technologies (Billerica, MA), a developer of advanced technology solutions for homeland and military security, is changing the name of its Ion Optics business unit to coincide with the unit’s move to a new facility. ICx Ion Optics will now conduct business as ICx Precision Photonics to more accurately reflect the unit’s core competency in next-generation infrared optical devices. Originally based in Waltham, MA, ICx Precision Photonics has moved into a new 20,000-sq-ft facility in nearby Billerica, MA.
Patent litigation: Emcore (Somerset, NJ), a provider of compound semiconductor-based components and subsystems for the broadband, fiber-optic, satellite, and solar power markets, has filed papers to extend the scope of its current patent-infringement action against Optium (Horsham, PA) to include one additional patent and an additional product line. Emcore alleges that Optium is infringing three of Emcore’s licensed patents: U.S. Patent #6,282,003, “Method and apparatus for optimizing SBS performance in an optical communication system using at least two phase modulation tones”; U.S. Patent #6,490,071, “Method and apparatus for optimizing SBS performance in an optical communication system using at least two phase modulation tones”; and U.S. Patent #6,519,374, “Predistortion arrangement using mixers in nonlinear electro-optical applications.” Emcore believes that Optium’s 1550-nm externally modulated transmitters and 1550-nm QAM transmitters infringe the patents.
“Emcore continues to put considerable resources into developing unique technologies that are key to transmission of video, voice, and data and support Emcore’s stature in the cable TV market,” said Hong Q. Hou, president and COO of Emcore.
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Acquisition pending? Rumors are swirling that Melles Griot is on the verge of being sold off by its parent company, Barloworld (Johannesburg, South Africa). Recent press coverage concerning Barloworld noted that to improve stockholder returns, Barloworld plans to divest Melles Griot as part of an ongoing effort to streamline operations and improve profitability for shareholders.
In a JSE (Africa’s financial trading market) SENS note from December 18, 2006, on the Barloworld Web site (www. barloworld.com), it was revealed that “Barloworld is currently undertaking other disposals, including part of Coatings Australia and the Scientific Division. The restricted tender process to dispose of Melles Griot is at an advanced stage and completion of the deal is expected in the next few months.”
Photovoltaic investment:Fiberstars (Solon, OH), a manufacturer of fiber optic lighting, has received $240,000 in funding through the Very High Efficiency Solar Concentrator Consortium (VHESC). Fiberstars was selected to join the consortium in 2006; this new installment will fund Fiberstars contributions through the next stage of the project.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) established the VHESC program to demonstrate at least 50% efficiency in a photovoltaic (PV) device. The consortium is led by the University of Delaware and includes the top solar teams in industry and academia. Fiberstars has been working with this group to develop materials, processes, and optics to speed the solar industry’s development of higher efficiency solar cells.