News Briefs

50-50 partners

The technology joint venture XTREME technologies (Jena and Göttingen, Germany) has a new shareholder. USHIO (Tokyo, Japan) acquired all of Lambda Physik’s shares in XTREME technologies. The Jenoptik subsidiary JENOPTIK Laser, Optik, Systeme GmbH (Jena) continues to hold the remaining 50% of XTREME. The company was founded in April 2001 as a joint venture between Lambda Physik and Jenoptik to provide efficient light sources for EUV lithography. Lambda Physik announced at the end of last year that it would cease future development activities in the area of lithography (and, consequently, its involvement in XTREME) to concentrate on its core markets in industrial, scientific, and OEM medical.

USHIO is Japan’s leading manufacturer of high-quality light sources, components and systems. USHIO holds an 80% share of the global market for lamps for the photolithography process; in addition, one of USHIO affiliated companies, Gigaphoton, has developed KrF and ArF excimer lasers for laser lithography.

In 2004 XTREME technologies generated the highest EUV output power in the world at a wavelength of 13.5 nm with an EUV radiation of 50 W output.

Medical diodes

Quintessence Photonics Corporation (Sylmar, CA) has won a multi-year production contract for high brightness, direct diode, semiconductor lasers from a major medical-laser manufacturer. QPC’s proprietary technology will be used in the next generation of minimally invasive procedures to treat varicose veins.

Green is good

The Melles Griot Laser Group (Carlsbad, CA) produces lasers of many wavelengths, but soon they will all be green. In an effort to conserve natural resources and restrict or eliminate hazardous substances from their products, Melles Griot plans to institute programs for recycling lasers and reducing hazardous materials. The company has invested in and received training by TUV Rheinland (Newtown, CT) and instituted two major manufacturing initiatives. Effective August 13, 2005, all Melles Griot laser products covered by Annex 1A of European Union directive 2002/96/EC on waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) and amending directive 2003/108/EC will be marked according to the directive, and systems will be in place for the collection, treatment, and recovery of the products. TUV Rheinland is a neutral, independent international service group that tests products for compliance with international standards.

Night vision

Obzerv Technologies (Quebec, Canada), a manufacturer of laser range-gated night vision surveillance systems, has been awarded a contract to deliver such a system for the French Army Parisian Expertise Center (DGA/DET/CEP). According to the company, the ATV-2000i system can identify in total darkness, with a 90% probability, military vehicles at 4 km. The camera operates at 860 nm and can observe scenes in passive mode during the day and in active mode during the night. This technology is based on the back reflection of diode-laser pulses by the target that allows reading registration marks with 15 inch letter at a distance of 6 km.

Laser radar

Aculight (Bothell, WA) has been awarded a $1.08 million contract from Lockheed Martin to develop a rugged, compact, diode-pumped solid-state laser. Commissioned for the U.S. Army’s Non Line-of-Sight Launch System Science and Technology Program, the laser will ultimately be used as an infrared light source for the laser radar seeker in the Loitering Attack Missile (LAM). With this seeker, LAM will provide soldiers the capability to search wide areas with a loitering munition and perform high-fidelity automatic target recognition in adverse weather conditions. Aculight’s laser system comprises an Nd:YVO4 laser with 1-um light output.

Telecom funding

Redfern Integrated Optics (RIO; Santa Clara, CA), a developer and manufacturer of optical transmitters for the telecommunications and data transmission markets, secured $6.2 million in financing. The financing was provided by Advent International, Tallwood Venture Capital, TMT Ventures and Redfern Photonics Pty Ltd. In connection with the financing, Leigh Michl, Dado Banatao and Paul van Tol joined RIO’s board to represent Advent, Tallwood, and TMT Ventures, respectively.

“This financing puts us in an excellent position to capitalize on our breakthrough platform technology,” said Radu Barsan, president and CEO of RIO. “Such financial support represents a significant endorsement of RIO’s value proposition and will enable us to continue to meet the growing needs of our customers for high-performance, low-cost 40/80km and DWDM XFP-compatible TOSAs.”

Patent license

As part of a comprehensive program to provide customers with new solutions in precision material processing applications, IMRA America (Ann Arbor, MI) signed a license agreement with the University of Michigan providing IMRA the ability to extend freedom to use patented processes to both system integrators and end-users that purchase IMRA laser products as part of a femtosecond laser-based micromachining station or setup. The license agreement has worldwide reach based on the patent family including U.S. patents #RE37,585 and #5,656,186, “Method for controlling configuration of laser induced breakdown and ablation,” assigned to the University of Michigan. The University of Michigan patent discloses a method for producing micron-level features in a variety of materials without inducing thermal damage to surrounding material. The method utilizes ultrashort laser pulses such as the ones produced by IMRA’s family of ultrafast fiber lasers.

EUV partners

Intel (Santa Clara, CA) and Corning (Corning, NY) have entered into an agreement to develop ultra-low thermal expansion (ULE) glass photomask substrates required for extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography technology. These substrates are needed to develop low-defect EUV photomasks to enable 32-nm node high-volume production using EUV lithography. Intel’s position in advanced semiconductor manufacturing will provide the expertise Corning requires to respond rapidly to industry requirements. The joint development program will help to enable chip production using EUV technology starting in 2009.

Nano investment

Honeywell (Sunnyvale, CA) intends to invest at least $5 million during the next five years into laboratory equipment and research activities at Albany NanoTech, one of the largest centers for nanotechnology research in the United States. Honeywell also will locate laboratories and researchers at the center to work on next generation materials for the semiconductor industry. Honeywell intends to focus its work at Albany NanoTech on the development of metal precursors and other materials related to Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD), which is essential as elements on a chip decrease below 100 nanometers as chips become increasingly smaller. Honeywell is also specifically focused on next-generation high-k dielectrics. Honeywell Electronic Materials is already a leader in dielectric materials.

Nanophotonics education

The Laboratory for Nanophotonics (LANP) at Rice University (Houston, TX) has been awarded a five-year, $3 million grant for a program to prepare students in the design and fabrication of nanoscale optical components and their applications in emerging technologies. The grant was awarded by one of the National Science Foundation’s most competitive programs, the Integrative Graduate Education and Research Training program. Formed in 2004, LANP’s mission is to invent, understand, develop, simulate, control, optimize, and apply nanoscale optical elements, components, and systems. The laboratory features a strong interdisciplinary research program in three primary areas: plasmonics, nanoparticle-enhanced sensing and spectroscopy, and nanophotonics applications in biomedicine.

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