News Briefs

Sept. 15, 2005

Telecom merger

Sabeus (Calabasas, CA), a manufacturer of acoustic sensing and telecommunications subsystems, has acquired laser developer Aragon Technologies (Van Nuys, CA). Aragon Technologies was founded in 2002 by Armando Montalvo and Al Garden to develop a narrow line width, low phase noise laser that is immune to the frequency output instability inherent to all lasers operating in harsh environments. Garden will serve as Sabeus’ vice president of operations, responsible for manufacturing, while Montalvo will lead the company’s research and development program as vice president of engineering.

“Unstable, expensive laser sources have long been a hindrance to the development of cost-effective sensing solutions for oilfield and military applications,” said Andre de Fusco, Sabeus’ president & CEO. “We will tightly integrate Aragon’s technology with our Surface Readout Units which are deployed to interrogate Sabeus’ fiber optic towed arrays, perimeter security and subsurface sensing systems.”

OLED partners

OTB Group and Royal Philips Electronics (Eindhoven, the Netherlands) have signed and closed an agreement for the acquisition of the Philips PolyLED activity in Heerlen, the Netherlands, by OTB Display (Eindhoven). As a result of this transaction, OTB Display expects to strengthen its position as a worldwide manufacturer of turn-key production solutions involving OLED displays. As a division of OTB Group, OTB Display already offers the first fully integrated, inline production solution for the manufacture of full-color OLED displays, both for polymer and small-molecule OLEDs.

Catalog business

Melles Griot (Carlsbad, CA) has begun a strategic repositioning of its catalogue distribution businesses in North America and Europe. The company is retaining local sales personnel while centralizing fulfillment and sales administration functions in all existing regions to ensure localized support, language proficiency, technical skills, and access to the factory. “Significant upgrades to our global IT infrastructure and Internet-based trading have resulted in significantly improved business efficiencies” said Blake Fennell, CEO. “Orders are now touched only once, no matter where they are placed, and demand is automatically routed to a fulfillment location based on available inventory.”

Although catalogue distribution makes up less than a quarter of the company’s worldwide revenue, it remains an important element of the business. The catalogue, the tenth volume of which has just been released, provides a broad array of photonics tools for students and researchers, and also outlines the laser and optics manufacturing competencies of Melles Griot.

Submit your news to Optoelectronics Report. Sales reports, market outlooks, and strategic moves are just a few of the items we would like you to share. Please fax information to Kathy Kincade at (603) 891-0475 or send e-mail to [email protected].

FTTP funding

Wave7 Optics (Atlanta, GA), a leading supplier of fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) equipment for residential and business services, announced $18 million in additional funding-$15 million from its existing investor group of Advanced Technology Partners, Armada Venture Partners, Lucent Venture Partners, Mellon Ventures, Morgenthaler Ventures, and Oak Investment Partners, and $3 million from a new investor, Ballast Point Ventures, a venture capital firm affiliated with Raymond James Financial, Inc. Wave7’s current VC funding now stands at $86.5 million. The funds will aid in the further development of its Last Mile Link and its next-generation FTTP platform.

Scanner demand

New research by Venture Development Corporation (VDC; Natick, MA), “The 2005 Global AIDC Business Planning Service,” estimates the 2004 global market for handheld and stationary bar code scanners at approximately $1.55 billion. This figure represents 17.3% annual growth from 2003 to 2004. Vertical markets such as retail and health care realized robust shipments for bar code scanners due to a product upgrade cycle and regulatory mandates, respectively. In addition, Western Europe and China experienced strong growth due to strong economies and favorable importing conditions. All major technology segments experienced growth in 2004, with especially strong growth realized for imaging-based scanning technologies. However, laser-based bar code scanners-especially within the retail point-of-sale sector-improved their dominant market positioning with above-average growth, according to VDC.

Optics rights

Acacia Patent Acquisition Corporation (Newport Beach, CA), a wholly owned subsidiary of the Acacia Technologies group, has acquired the rights to patents relating to high resolution optics used by the military and in commercial products. These patents generally relate to refractive and diffractive systems and methods for improving imaging capabilities in multi-element optical systems by using fewer elements. The patented systems and techniques have direct applications in military imaging systems such as thermal weapon sites, as well as commercial products like camera lenses and optical printers. This is the 31st patented technology for which Acacia has acquired rights since the beginning of the year, according to Paul Ryan, chairman and CEO of Acacia.

Laser safety

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA; Washington, DC) and the Laser Institute of America (Washington, DC) have formed an alliance that focuses on providing access to training resources to help protect worker safety and health particularly by reducing and preventing exposure to laser beam and non-beam hazards in industrial and medical workplaces. The alliance calls for OSHA and the institute to work together to develop training and education programs for OSHA staff and employers and employees that use lasers in the work place. In addition, they will provide laser-related training courses and focus on sharing information on the bioeffects that lasers can have on the eyes and skin, laser control measures, and laser safety program administration.

LCD investment

LG.Philips LCD (Seoul, Korea), a leading innovator of thin-film transistor liquid crystal display (TFT-LCD) technology, signed an Investment Agreement with the governments of Poland and the municipality of Wroclaw to build a module plant in Wroclaw. LG.Philips LCD plans to construct the “back-end” module production plant in Wroclaw, becoming the first global LCD industry player to commence such production in Europe. LG.Philips LCD plans to build a production plant at the site with an annual capacity of 11 million units and will invest a total of EUR 429 million by 2011. The company will break ground for the plant in the first half of 2006 and commence mass production in the first half of 2007 when construction of the first batch of module lines is completed with an annual capacity of 3 million units.

Laser mine detection

Northrop Grumman (Melbourne, FL) received a $124.5 million U.S. Navy letter contract for the Airborne Laser Mine Detection System (ALMDS). Operating from the MH-60S helicopter, ALMDS uses a light detecting and ranging blue-green laser to detect, localize and classify near-surface, moored and floating sea mines. The initial contract awarded a total of $45.5 million for a low-rate initial production (LRIP) of three AN/AES-1 ALMDS pods. The contract calls for options totaling $79 million for an additional six LRIP pods, one full-rate production lot of six pods, two training systems and integrated logistics support for the system.

Optical tags

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) awarded Cubic Defense Applications (San Diego, CA) a 15-month, $6.1 million research and development contract to continue its work on Phase 2 of the Dynamic Optical Tags (DOTs) program. Cubic’s DOTs allow long-range, covert two-way data exchange and reconfiguration to reduce chances of losing assets and lives in tactical operations. Because they use laser technology instead of radio frequency (RF) signals, DOTs are unseen. This means they can be used in hostile environments with very low probability of detection or interception.

Cubic received funding for the first phase of the DOTS program in 2003. Since that time, the company has demonstrated the capability of the system to perform two-way optical ground-to-ground communication. Cubic has also built prototypes of the tags and an interrogator, the two main system components. The recent award provides funding for miniaturizing the existing tag to a specified size and developing and testing a prototype airborne interrogator, among other work.

New office

Zygo (Middlefield, CT), a supplier of optical metrology instruments, precision optics and electro-optical design and manufacturing services, has opened a facility in Beaverton, OR, for its new semiconductor process metrology group, headed by Michael Darwin. According to the company, the expansion is part of a recent initiative to apply its optical metrology and detection technology to the semiconductor process control industry. Darwin was formerly head of the process metrology group at Intel’s Portland Technology Development center (Hillsboro, OR).

Remote sensing

Lockheed Martin (Bethesda, MD) signed a definitive agreement to acquire Coherent Technologies (Louisville, CO), a supplier of laser-based remote sensing systems. Coherent Technologies performs research, product development and systems integration for products designed to maintain continuous, real-time operations and to provide information regarding target identification and hazardous meteorological events. Lockheed Martin Space Systems (Denver, CO) will manage the Coherent Technologies business. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Piezoelectric patent

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted New Scale Technologies (Rochester, NY) a fundamental patent (US Patent #6,940,209) for its SQUIGGLE motor design. Made of piezoelectric ceramics and other non-magnetic materials, the tiny SQUIGGLE motor has applications in nanotechnology research, microelectronics, optics, lasers, biotechnology, medical devices, aerospace and defense, fluid control, and office/consumer products including mobile phone cameras.

The SQUIGGLE motor design uses a threaded nut and screw to create precise linear movement in a very small space. Piezoelectric ceramics create ultrasonic vibrations in the nut, causing the screw to rotate and translate with high precision. Since introducing the first SQUIGGLE motor in 2004, New Scale has continuously improved the performance and reduced the size of its miniature motors. The latest models are less than 3 mm in diameter. A key application is control of auto focus and optical zoom lenses in mobile phone cameras.

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