News Briefs

Divesting

Newport (Irvine, CA) entered into a definitive agreement to sell its robotic systems operations, which have been reflected as discontinued operations since the first quarter of 2005. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Located in Richmond, CA, Newport’s robotic systems operations serve the front-end semiconductor equipment industry with wafer-handling subsystems such as atmospheric robots, load ports and equipment front-end modules. Newport will retain ownership of the high-precision motion stage systems manufactured in Richmond, and will continue to sell, service and support these products through its sales and distribution channels. The company noted that sales from this product line have been $4 million to $5 million annually.

Army contract

Axsun Technologies (Billerica, MA), a manufacturer of micro-optoelectronic products, received a $2.5 million contract from the U.S. Army to develop and implement technologies for automated assembly of micromechanical devices. Axsun is currently working with the Army to develop advanced versions of the LIGA process, a technology for fabricating highly precise microcomponents from metals and plastics. LIGA combines lithography, electroforming, and molding (the name is a German acronym for these processes). Axsun’s Livermore, CA facility produces many of the LIGA mounting structures used in Axsun’s IntegraSpec NIR spectrometer and telecommunications optical monitors as well as miniature devices and components for a variety of commercial and military applications.

Quantum dots

The expansion of a company’s sales force is typically not headline news. But if the company is a developer of quantum-dot (QD) nanomaterials, then such an expansion warrants mention, as it denotes the solid commercial potential of QD technology. Evident Technologies (Troy, NY), a developer of advanced QD nanomaterials, has added a new vice president for sales, Jeffrey Goronkin, tripled its sales staff, and added regional sales representatives in targeted areas of the United States.

Evident has six major product lines in development or on the market for commercial sales. These products-dots, resins, particles, powders, tags, and fluorescing probes-have applications across a number of markets. In addition, the company recently announced the release of its new non-heavy-metal quantum dot T2-MP EviTags.

Evident’s T2-MP EviTag product line is based on a version of indium gallium phosphide QDs that are coated with an outer layer of zinc sulphide deposited via Evident’s “molecular plating” technique.

New VP

Breault Research Organization (Tucson, AZ) has hired Brent LaFoley as vice president of worldwide sales. LaFoley comes to BRO with more than 10 years of experience in large-scale software sales and account management; his previous work experience includes positions with Cybermetrics Corporation, Ansoft Corporation, Rand Worldwide, and Parametric Technology Corporation.

China connection

JP Sercel Associates (JPSA; Hollis, NH), a global supplier of UV laser technology and systems for materials processing, has entered into a partnering agreement with Beijing Opto-Electronics Technology Co. Ltd. (BOET). Under terms of the agreement, BOET will sell and service JPSA laser systems in China, including the IX-300 ChromaDice UV laser system for semiconductor wafer processing, including scribing and dicing in production volumes. BOET will also sell and service JPSA systems.

Telecom sale

ADVA Optical Networking signed a definitive agreement to acquire all material assets in privately-held Covaro Networks (Richardson, TX), a supplier of intelligent Ethernet demarcation products for Ethernet WAN applications that enable service providers to offer Ethernet services over fiber and copper. Under terms of the agreement, ADVA will acquire all material Covaro Networks assets via a combination of shares and cash. A price component of US$15 million will be paid in 2,024,190 to-be-issued shares of ADVA common stock via a capital increase; 35% of these shares will be tradable immediately upon issuance, and the remaining new shares will be subject to various lock-up provisions. A second price component of approximately US$4 million will be paid in cash, and an earn-out of up to US$5 million may be paid in cash based on achievement of specific sales and gross margin targets in Q4 2005 and FY 2006 for products developed by Covaro.

Neural laser

Aculight Corporation (Bothell, WA) has been awarded a $200,000 Phase I SBIR award from the National Institutes of Health through a joint effort with Vanderbilt University (Nashville, TN) to develop a compact, low-cost, optical neural stimulator. Aculight’s device is a fiber-coupled laser that generates reliable, pulsed, mid-IR light output from a compact, low-cost package. It is intended as an alternative to the electrical stimulators currently in use in applications such as locating and treating peripheral nerves, brain mapping, and nerve conduction studies.

Cancer detection

A spectroscopy system from optical sensing specialist Ocean Optics (Dunedin, FL) forms the basis of a new, real-time, non-invasive cancer detection system currently undergoing clinical trials. The CancerScanner technology uses an Ocean Optics system consisting of a halogen light source, optical fiber probe, and palm-sized spectrometer to detect alterations of cells from normal to pre-cancerous and cancerous conditions in the human body rather than in the lab. Developed by the Bioscience Division of the U.S. Department of Energy, the technology has been licensed to, and further developed by, SpectraPath Technologies. It is hoped that the system will allow physicians to screen patients quickly, providing instant diagnoses, without requiring invasive and time-consuming biopsies for skin, cervical, brain, esophageal, and colorectal cancers.

Pioneer passes

Richard Smalley, the Nobel Prize-winning nanotechnology researcher who was also an ardent supporter of commercial nanotechnology development, died October 28 of cancer. He was 62. Smalley shared the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1996 with Robert Curl and Sir Harry Kroto for discovering the C60 molecule, a soccer ball-shaped form of carbon called buckminsterfullerene, or buckyballs.

Born June 6, 1943, Smalley studied at Hope College in Michigan and the University of Michigan before earning a Ph.D. in chemistry at Princeton University in 1973. He joined the faculty at Rice University in Houston in 1976 where he rose to become chair of the chemistry department as well as a professor in the physics department. He was the founding director of the Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology at Rice and was director of the Carbon Nanotechnology Laboratory.

More recently, his work turned to the commercial applications of carbon nanotubes, a form of carbon related to the buckyballs he was famous for co-discovering. He was a scientific adviser to biotech startup C Sixty, which is investigating the use of fullerenes for biopharmaceutical applications and was chairman of Carbon Nanotechnologies.


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