News Briefs

Aug. 1, 2008

Liquid lens deployed in webcams: Varioptic (Lyon, France), the liquid lens company, and Shenzhen Akkord Electronics (Shenzhen, China), an OEM for leading electronics brand names in Europe, launched the first 1.3 and 2.0 megapixel liquid lens variable focus webcams called the S1300 and S2000 AF SnakeCams. These cameras or webcams feature a high-quality CMOS sensor integrating Varioptic’s variable focus liquid lens, the Arctic 416. Tian Xiaofeng, general manager of Shenzhen Akkord Electronics, said, “By choosing Varioptic’s liquid lens over other auto-focus actuators, we are able to supply our customers with an innovative, high- performance, low-power, auto-focus solution with no moving parts, requiring very little power, and with a very fast response time.”

Cooling technology awards: Nextreme Thermal Solutions (Durham, NC), provider of microscale thermal and power management products for the optoelectronics industry, received awards from two leading technology magazines. Advanced Packaging recognized the thermal bump with a 2008 Advanced Packaging Award in the thermal management technology category. Also, Nextreme’s OptoCooler was given an award by Nanotech Briefs in their fourth annual Nano 50 Awards program, which recognizes the top 50 technologies, products, and innovators that have significantly impacted, or are expected to impact, the state of the art in nanotechnology.

Multi-million dollar order: Sydor Instruments (Rochester, NY), a manufacturer of ultrafast imaging systems, was awarded a major contract to supply nine optical streak cameras to Project Orion, a new research center at AWE (Atomic Weapons Establishment) in Aldermaston, U.K. “Sydor Instruments is the only company that could provide the critical calibrated software, which measures the power balance of high-intensity lasers used in high-energy physics,” said Michael Pavia, president of Sydor. “The Sydor Optical Streak System is the only self-calibrating streak camera in the world.” This order represents an additional nine systems (two delivered earlier) bringing the total order value with AWE to well over $3 million. Sydor expects to add to its highly technical team in order to fulfill this contract through the end of 2009.

Imaging software package: Applied Image (Rochester NY) announced the next generation of Imatest (Boulder, CO) analytical software programs complemented by a wide variety of Applied Image high-quality test target arrays. The Imatest software measures the sharpness and image quality of digital camera images and digitized film images. If purchased together, the Applied Image test target and Imatest software offers the end-user a substantial savings over purchasing them separately. Special package pricing can be found on the Applied Image website at

50th terahertz patent: TeraView (Cambridge, England), provider of terahertz technology for the pharmaceutical industry, announced the award of its 50th patent. In the pharmaceutical area TeraView has developed proprietary methods for determining polymorphism, coating thickness, density, core integrity and other key quality attributes which correlate with the performance of the product. The depth and breadth of this intellectual property is the result of substantial company investment over the past decade. Don Arnone, CEO of TeraView, said, “The award of our 50th patent is a significant milestone, and we are proud of our team and their achievements which have put us in this leadership position.”

Metrology award: QED Technologies (Rochester, NY), a wholly owned subsidiary of Cabot Microelectronics Corporation, was named as a recipient of an R&D 100 Award for 2008. This award is granted by R&D Magazine for the 100 most technologically significant products introduced into the marketplace in the past year. The winning new product, “Subaperture Stitching Interferometer for Aspheres (SSI-A(R))”, is a turnkey precision measurement tool uniquely capable of measuring complex surfaces (see This is the second consecutive year that QED Technologies has been honored with the R&D 100 Award.

ICALEO student grant: The National Science Foundation (NSF), through the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, has provided a grant to the 27th International Congress on Applications of Lasers & Electro-Optics (ICALEO) to enable U. S. graduate students the opportunity to attend this premier laser materials processing conference on October 20–23 in Temecula, CA. The NSF grant will be used to support the Student Paper Award at ICALEO 2008. As part of the requirement to apply for complimentary registration under the grant, students are asked to share their laser technology insight at the conference by submitting a paper. Applications (to be completed by August 18, 2008) and more information for the grant are available at

Microscopy of nuclear fuel: Hinds Instruments (Hillsboro, OR), a supplier of photoelastic modulators (PEMs), announced that the Institute for Transuranium Elements (ITU; Karlsruhe, Germany), and part of the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre, installed Hinds Instruments’ Two Modulator Generalized Ellipsometry Microscope (2-MGEM) Optical Anisotropy Factor Measurement System to help characterize cross sections of tristructural isotropic (TRISO) nuclear fuel particles. The instrument is a significant breakthrough; it is faster, more accurate and collects considerably more data than previous optical anisotropy measurement techniques.

Worldwide science education: Workshops for educators promoting an innovative method of teaching physics that uses optics and photonics as an experimental topic will be held in Zambia in September and Cameroon in December. Proposals for 2009 have been received from Peru and Nepal, according to program specialist Minella Alarcon of UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization). The workshops are organized within the framework of the project Active Learning in Optics and Photonics (ALOP) sponsored by UNESCO, SPIE (Bellingham,WA), ICTP (Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics), the National Academies of the USA, and Essilor. SPIE has contributed $20,000 annually since 2005 in support of the project.

Education award: The OSA Foundation (OSAF; Washington, DC) is the recipient of a 2008 Distinguished Achievement Award from the Association of Educational Publishers (AEP). It was honored for its collaborative project with the Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) on the book entitled Lighten Up! Discovering the Science of Light, that took top honors in the Curriculum, Science Instruction Book, Grades 6–8 category. The book provides basic explanations of optics-related science, along with many examples of the ways optical technology is used in everyday life. Elizabeth A. Rogan, OSA executive director, said, “Research has shown that it is particularly important to encourage students’ interest in science early in their academic life.”

People in the news: Optics and optoelectronics assembly products company Photonic Products Group (PPGi; Northvale, NJ) announced that its president and CEO Daniel Lehrfeld has decided to step down from the management team in late December 2008. Lehrfeld said that he believed a change in dynamic from time to time is essential, and after nine years it was time to invest the leadership of PPGi in the hands of an appropriate successor CEO—only the third in the company’s 35 year history.

Display market research and consulting firm DisplaySearch (Austin, TX) appointed display industry veteran Paul Semenza as the company’s senior VP managing the North American and European analyst teams. Semenza brings more than 20 years of global market research experience to his new role and most recently served as VP and manager of iSuppli’s (El Segundo, CA) display business, where he managed the firm’s market intelligence and consulting practice in the display and consumer electronics sectors.

Infinera (Sunnyvale, CA) president and CEO Jagdeep Singh received the 2008 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award for networking and communications in the Northern California program. According to Ernst & Young, the award recognizes outstanding entrepreneurs who are building and leading dynamic, growing businesses in Northern California. In his acceptance speech, Singh attributed Infinera’s success to the “world-class” quality of its 800-employee team.

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