News Briefs

Dec. 1, 2008

Photovoltaic award: Spectrolab (Sylmar, CA), a wholly owned Boeing subsidiary, received the 2008 SpotBeam Award for Space Innovation from the California Space Authority (CSA) in recognition of its 50 years of advances in photovoltaic solar-cell technology, solar panels, and related products. David Lillington, president of Spectrolab, said, “As satellites become more powerful and capable, the breadth and depth of Spectrolab’s knowledge enables us to develop solar cells that increase efficiencies and contribute to our customers’ successful space satellite operations.” Spectrolab products have powered satellites since 1958 and its solar cells power 60% of all satellites orbiting the Earth as well as the International Space Station.

Telecom acquistion: JDSU (Milpitas, CA), solutions and test equipment provider for carrier labs and communications networks, acquired Circadiant (Allentown, PA), a provider of small-form-factor-pluggable (SFP) modules, 10 GigE, and other test solutions; terms of the acquisition were not released. Circadiant expands JDSU’s product portfolio for the lab and production test market by capitalizing on a number of key assets, including Circadiant’s successful Hydra and OST product platforms, established test expertise, and close customer relationships with leading network equipment manufacturers, optical module vendors and semiconductor companies. JDSU’s extensive optical transport product development capabilities and global distribution channels will now be available to extend the technology leadership established by Circadiant and broaden its portfolio.

Workforce reduction: KLA-Tencor Corporation (Milpitas, CA) announced that, in response to current market conditions, the company plans to reduce its global workforce by approximately 15% by June 30, 2009. This reduction is one of many cost-reduction actions the company is taking in an effort to lower the company’s quarterly operating expense run rate to approximately $165–170 million by the end of fiscal year 2009 in response to the current demand environment. “Our employees are the heart of our organization, so it is with considerable reluctance that we are proceeding with this necessary reduction,” said Rick Wallace, CEO of KLA-Tencor. “We will continue to monitor the demand environment and make the necessary adjustments to weather this downturn, help optimize our profitability, maintain our strategic focus and strengthen our competitive position.”

Funding for LED lighting: Oree (Ramat Gan, Israel), developer of flat, ultrathin, energy efficient LED lighting engines, secured a $4 million venture loan from Silicon Valley Bank and Kreos

Capital to devote to manufacturing and expanding business development activities. Eran Fine, Oree CEO, said, “Despite the turmoil in global financial markets, this financing is a vote of confidence in Oree’s innovative technology and customer traction.” Oree’s technology enables the transmission of LEDs into a uniform surface in an ultrathin structure, making the light bulb as thin and flat as a credit card. The product, made of entirely non-hazardous materials, offers improved light quality with a longer life span.

New Flexible Display Center member: Applied Materials (Santa Clara, CA), through its Display Business Group-AKT, has become an Associate Member of The Flexible Display Center (FDC) at Arizona State University (ASU; Tempe, AZ). Applied Materials supplies systems, processes, and services to the flat-panel display manufacturing industry, focusing on applications that serve the thin-film transistor liquid-crystal display (TFT-LCD) market. The FDC is a government/university/academia partnership, whose mission is to advance the development and commercialization of full-color flexible electronic display technologies.

Record display shipments: According to Displaybank, a market research company for the display & photovoltaic industry, its “Monthly Large Size TFT-LCD Panel Shipment Data” report says that LG Display (Korea), recorded the largest shipment share in September 2008 and was the only company to show an increase in shipment volume of the top four makers and maintained the first place in shipment share with 25.5%. LG Display expanded captive customer sales and recorded 2.59 million LCD TV panel shipment units in October 2008, a 13% increase from September 2008. It also showed a good information technology panel shipment result through an expansion to the global brand sales. Samsung Electronics showed a 6% increase in LCD TV panel shipments in October 2008 compared to September 2008 and recorded a 22.2% total large-size shipment share.

LCD panel price fixing: Last week, Sharp, LG, and others (excluding Samsung) plead guilty to LCD panel price fixing over a six-year period (2001 to 2006) and agreed to pay record fines (over $500 million) and “to cooperate fully” with authorities in the ongoing U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation. Steve Sechrist, senior analyst and editor at Insight Media (Norwalk, CT), says that given the recent history of LCD-TV price drops, some in the industry think the DOJ action is a bit overblown. The New York Times piece that broke the story said, “The LCD business is a $100-billion-a-year market and growing, but prices are falling relentlessly. Recently, panel prices have often been cut in half each year, a downward trajectory even steeper than in other technology markets known for steady price pressure.” Sechrist anticipates that Samsung will eventually be implicated in the price-fixing scheme.

Planar optical splitters from Japan: NITTA Corporation (Osaka, Japan), appointed TMI Optics Sales Company (Armonk, NY) to market its planar optical splitters in the U.S. “Although a relatively newcomer to the optical networks components business, NITTA brings to the market a long history of successful experience in polymer and precision manufacturing technology,” said Paul Polishuk, President of IGI Consulting (Boston, MA), a consultant in the optical network components field.

Medical-laser company ownership boost: According to an article in The Gazette (Colorado Springs, CO), Wells Fargo increased its stake in troubled medical laser manufacturer Spectranetics (also located in Colorado Springs) by 1.39 million shares as reported in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing. The acquisition boosts Wells’ ownership of the company from 2.12 million shares, or 6.74% of Spectranetics shares, to 3.5 million shares, or 10.98%. Spectranetics shares were trading for $3 on October 31, but fell the following Monday to a six-year low of $2.10. The shares closed at $2.15 the following Wednesday. The purchase comes a week after Spectranetics replaced its president in a management shake-up amid a federal investigation into the marketing and safety of its medical lasers in clearing blocked arteries in patients’ legs.

Laser rejuvenation acquisition: Syneron Medical (Yokneam, Israel), developer and marketer of elos combined-energy medical aesthetic devices, signed an agreement to acquire laser technology development and research firm Inlight (San Diego, CA). Specific terms of the transaction were not disclosed. “With the expertise offered by Inlight, we have assembled a powerful team for enhancing the capabilities, applications and success of laser technology for our customers and partners,” said Syneron CEO Doron Gerstel. “Utilizing Inlight’s innovative technology, Syneron will develop and release unique and highly competitive skin rejuvenation products, with the first expected to be launched in 2009.”

CMOS and biosensor agreement: The nanoelectronics research center IMEC (Leuven, Belgium) and Panasonic (Osaka, Japan) signed a joint research contract concerning advanced technologies in the semiconductor, networks, wireless, and biomedical fields. Mass production of the system-on-chip technology with 65 nm and 45 nm processes such as Panasonic’s UniPhier uses the results of joint research with IMEC. Now, the comprehensive joint research program with Panasonic will cover most of the research domains of IMEC to expand the collaboration scope from advanced semiconductor process technology to include other application areas such as next-generation biosensors.

Photonics research cooperation: The Photonics Advanced Research Center (PARC) at Osaka University (Osaka, Japan) and SPIE (Bellingham, WA) signed an agreement to cooperate more closely in fostering information exchange and other activities to help advance photonics research. Under the agreement, PARC and SPIE will exchange information about activities such as technical conferences, publications, scholarships and grants, and will communicate about trends in the field. The agreement will enable increased participation and visibility of members, faculty, and students in networking opportunities, educational collaborations, and Visiting Lecturer exchanges. PARC’s focus is on research enabling technology innovation in biotechnology, communications, security, environmental health, energy conservation, and other areas.

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