Dow Corning forms Light Management group

Dow Corning Corporation plans to merge its Photonics Solutions business-development program with the company’s mainstream electronics business, bringing it into the group headed by Tom Cook, Dow Corning’s global-industry executive director.

MIDLAND, MI - Dow Corning Corporation plans to merge its Photonics Solutions business-development program with the company’s mainstream electronics business, bringing it into the group headed by Tom Cook, Dow Corning’s global-industry executive director. The move will bring Dow Corning’s full worldwide resources to bear on the technology being developed in the group, according to Cook. The new Light Management group will concentrate on and widen the previous program’s areas of pursuit, which include technology for improving light-emitting diodes (LEDs), light pipes, and flat-panel displays.

“The result will be a lot more reach,” said Cook. “We are now developing a global market plan and will take advantage of linkages into sales, as well as product development worldwide.” Dow Corning would also like to explore venture-capital partnerships, he noted.

The Light Management group offers photonics products and services, as well as technology. The initial focus of the group includes commercializing encapsulants and lenses for LEDs as well as materials for optical assemblies, fiberoptics, and light-pipe and light-guidance applications. The group’s services include optical-waveguide prototyping, R&D, and help with supply-chain management. One of the business-development program’s areas of development had previously been moved into Cook’s group: the LED-technology effort, which includes the development of encapsulants and lenses for the devices.

Dow Corning also expects to develop optical-interconnect and holographic-material technologies, which the company has been exploring through collaborations with optical-integrated-circuit maker Gemfire Corporation (Fremont, CA) and Aprilis (Maynard, MA), a holographic media and data storage system developer.

Many (though not all) of the technologies and materials to be pursued by Cook’s group derive from Dow Corning’s decades-long expertise in formulating and finding applications for silicone. For optoelectronics applications, silicone-based materials have very high optical transmission in the UV and visible spectral regions, making them candidates for optical applications across multiple market sectors. Silicone-based materials also have very good transmittance in the near-IR, and, through various formulations, offer the ability to control their refractive indices over a wide range. Silicone-based materials typically have no or very low stress-induced birefringence due to their mechanical compliance.

In addition, the company is one of the few producers of silicon carbide wafers, which, along with their use in high-speed electronics, can be used as substrates for high-brightness gallium nitride-based LEDs and lasers. Dow Corning has the capability for device fabrication as well, including dielectric materials, device packaging, and thermal management. In addition, its dimethyl fluid is used in the manufacture of optical fiber. Light pipes developed by the company consist of a rubber cladding and a core of optical gel; with a light source at one end and a detector on the other, they can be used as fiber sensors.

- John Wallace

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