Coherent VP takes over as BinOptics CEO

Michael Cumbo, former executive vice president and general manger of the optical components business at Coherent, has left Coherent to step into the chief executive position at BinOptics, a manufacturer of integrated photonic components for datacom, telecom, and optical storage applications.

Aug 1st, 2005

ITHACA, NY - Michael Cumbo, former executive vice president and general manger of the optical components business at Coherent, has left Coherent to step into the chief executive position at BinOptics, a manufacturer of integrated photonic components for datacom, telecom, and optical storage applications. Current BinOptics CEO and co-founder Alex Behfar will continue to serve as chairman of the board and will also assume the newly created role of chief technology officer.

Cumbo has more than 25 years experience in the optics and photonics industry and had been with Coherent for about a year, focused primarily on the company’s passive components business; prior to that he held senior-level positions at OCLI and JDSU. He says the opportunity to lead a young company with the potential for strong growth is something he has wanted to do for a long time.

“BinOptics is just what I was looking for in terms of team dynamics, distinctive technical competencies, innovation, and broad market access,” Cumbo said. “The company is now poised to disrupt the market for fiber-to-the-home components, and is well positioned in the market for the blue semiconductor lasers that will be used in next-generation DVD players. Furthermore, BinOptics has unique IP that will enable cost effective, hand-held chemical and biological detection devices needed for homeland security.”

According to Cumbo, BinOptics’ (for “binary optics”) core competencies are based upon proprietary etched facet technology, which allows the company to integrate high-performance indium phosphide lasers (1310-1550 nm sources) with digital and analog detectors on the same chip using VCSEL-type packaging-an architecture BinOptics calls “HCSEL” (horizontal cavity surface emitting laser).

“This architecture allows us to eliminate some of the manufacturing difficulties that people have with edge emitting lasers, mainly cleaving, resulting in much higher yield,” he said. “It also allows us to incorporate the good aspects of VCSELs without the material science challenges.”

While Cumbo still sees opportunities for this technology in the telecom market, particularly in passive optical networks for fiber to the home, the company is also looking to make some inroads in other markets, such as DVDs.

“This technology is not limited to indium phosphide based semiconductors-it is also relevant to gallium nitride (GaN), which is the basis for the 405-nm semiconductor blue lasers beginning to be deployed for next generation DVDs,” he said. “Our distinctive competency there is the ability to allow gallium nitride laser manufacturers to reduce their sensitivity to defects. Through the use of our etched facet technology, they can reduce the length of their blue laser cavities, thereby occupying less real estate than a cleaved laser. We are conservatively estimating that this could boost yields by up to a factor of 10 by miniaturizing the active device area.”

BinOptics will continue to operate its wafer fab and other activities in Ithaca, but plans to base its marketing and sales efforts on the West Coast to be closer to key customers, Cumbo added.
- Kathy Kincade

More in Home