News Briefs

New ownership

Axcel Photonics (Marlborough, MA) has been sold to J. Jim Hsieh, founder of Lasertron and pioneer in the field of fiberoptic lasers. Hsieh will take the helm as CEO and has appointed Frank Hsieh as executive vice president in charge of sales and marketing. Wei Gao, founder of Axcel Photonics, will continue his duties as president. Other key employees will also own a share of the company, making it one of the few laser component companies that is wholly owned by its management and personnel,” according to Frank Hsieh. Axcel Photonics was formed in June 2000 to design and manufacture semiconductor lasers with high performance and high reliability. The company currently offers single-mode and multimode laser diodes operating at wavelengths from 785nm to 1060nm for telecom, solid-state laser pumping, medical, homeland security, and imaging applications.

“We plan to position Axcel as the world’s leading manufacturer of high power diode lasers in terms of performance, reliability, and quality,” Hsieh said. “Axcel has the technology to produce extremely high power products. The next step is to make these readily available in the marketplace.”

New distributor

NP Photonics (Tucson, AZ), a manufacturer of single frequency fiber lasers, ASE sources and interrogators for sensing, security and general research purposes, announced it has signed a distributor agreement with Ammo Engineering E.O. Ltd. in Israel.

LCD patents

Honeywell (Morris Township, NJ) and Chi Mei Optoelectronics (CMO; Tainan, Taiwan) have signed a license agreement enabling CMO to use several Honeywell technologies relating to liquid crystal display (LCD) products. The agreement provides CMO a license to use Honeywell’s technology protected by U.S. Patent #5,280,371, which increases the brightness of images and reduces the appearance of certain interference effects on LCD displays. The parties also exchanged cross licenses under other patents. Other terms of the agreement were not disclosed. LG.Philips LCD, Samsung Electronics Co., and NEC LCD Technologies Ltd. have previously taken licenses under the ‘371 patent. Last October, Honeywell filed a lawsuit in Delaware District Court against 34 electronics companies alleging infringement of the ‘371 patent.

Blue-laser DVD

The Opto-Electronics & Systems Laboratories (OES) of the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) has introduced Taiwan’s first self-developed blue-laser DVD pick-up head. The blue-laser DVD pick-up head conforms to the HD-DVD standard, the next-generation blue-laser DVD format developed by Toshiba and NEC, and will be initially used in read only DVD drives, according to OES deputy director Der-ray Huang. OES plans to offer the pick-up head to interested local IC design houses and makers of optical discs for developing and testing of blue-laser DVD products.

Distribution partners

fSONA Systems (Vancouver, BC, Canada) and LaserBit (Budapest, Hungary) are joining forces to deliver the most comprehensive selection of optical wireless products worldwide. The strategic agreement allows both companies to sell the complete combined product portfolio globally. The products offered by the two companies will range from LaserBit’s low-cost Power over Ethernet Pluto solutions to fSONA’s military-grade, high-performance SONAbeam M Series.

In related news, the board of directors of fSONA named Sunny Taylor as its new CEO and member of the board of directors. Taylor has held senior executive sales and business development positions with responsibility for growing market share in the United States and Canada, most recently, as fSONA’s vice president of sales, North America.

Big bucks

Picolight (Boulder, CO) raised $13 million in its latest funding round. Coral Capital Management led the round by joining previous investors BA Venture Partners and Vesbridge Partners to complete the new financing. The company is looking to close another $4 million to $7 million in funding during the second quarter of 2005 for various product expansion activities. Picolight raised $90 million in prior capital, with the most recent round raised at a significant increase in valuation from the prior round. The company says its revenue has increased more than 125% from the first quarter 2004 to first quarter 2005, fueled by increasing demand in Internet protocol-driven applications, including 10G Ethernet and parallel-optics markets.

New CEO

Infinitesima (Oxford, UK), maker of the VideoAFM video-rate atomic force microscope, appointed Jeff Lyons as its new CEO. Lyons has 19 years of technology industry experience, primarily in the semiconductor sector. Most recently, Jeff has served as CEO of semiconductor-related technology startups in the UK including Advanced Rendering Technology in Cambridge.

Exclusive distributor

nLight (Vancouver, WA) named Laser Lines (Industrial & Medical; Banbury, UK) its exclusive distributor for the United Kingdom. Laser Lines will be responsible for sales and service of nLight’s CW and QCW high-power visible and near-infrared diode laser product line. Founded in 1975 by president and general manager Ted Paine, Laser Lines is an international distributor of laser, electro-optic, and rapid prototyping equipment.

Bio-CD prototype

QuadraSpec (West Lafayette, IN), a new medical technology venture, is working with Lincoln Laser Company (Phoenix, AZ) to develop its prototype for a diagnostic platform that will speed up medical test results and cut costs by enabling thousands of tests on a single drop of blood, in a matter of just minutes. The Bio-CD, the result of technology licensed from Purdue University, uses biosensor technology to sense proteins and other biological molecules. It can contain up to 1000 unique tests and can perform these tests on as many as 100 samples at a time; more conventional technologies are limited in the number of tests or samples tat can be analyzed at one time.

For sale

Newport Corporation (Irvine, CA) plans to divest its robotic systems operations, which is not profitable and is no longer core to Newport’s overall strategy, according to the company. Located in Richmond, California, the robotic systems operations are the largest part of Newport’s Advanced Packaging and Automation Systems (APAS) Division, serving the front-end semiconductor equipment industry with product lines that include wafer-handling robots, load ports and equipment front-end modules. Newport has retained an investment banking firm to sell the assets of the robotic systems operations, which include a number of issued and pending patents on state-of-the-art edge-gripping end effectors for wafer-handling robots. The company plans to consolidate the remaining operations of its APAS division into its other operating divisions. The Richmond operations incurred an operating loss in 2004, and are expected to lose $2.5 million to $3.5 million in the first quarter of 2005 on $3.0 million to $4.0 million in sales.

Magazine honored

Laser Focus World magazine (Nashua, NH) ranks number 66 in B2B magazine’s special report on top trade magazines by 2004 ad revenue (“Top Trades”, March 14, 2005). The report, which discusses the perception that print media is diminishing as the media of choice in many industries, noted that many publications remain robust despite the seeming preference among marketers to choose the Internet and trade events over the printed page.

More consolidation

TriQuint Semiconductor (Hillsboro, OR) will sell its indium phosphide optoelectronics operation in Breinigsville, Pennsylvania, and Matamoros, Mexico, to and CyOptics (Lehigh Valley, PA), a private optical components manufacturer. TriQuint will continue to support current optical customers and products based on gallium arsenide not associated with the operations in Pennsylvania and Mexico. CyOptics plans to employ the majority of TriQuint’s 100 employees in Pennsylvania and 150 employees in Mexico. TriQuint has also entered into an agreement to sell its nearly 850,000 square feet optoelectronics facility and surrounding property in Breinigsville to Anthem Partners. CyOptics will lease approximately 90,000 square feet of space in this facility for its operations once it has completed its purchase of the business from TriQuint.

TriQuint’s total consideration from the sale of the building and the business will be approximately $32 million and will result in a one-time gain of $7 million to $8 million. TriQuint says it will now focus on its growing businesses in the wireless handset, base station, defense, and wireless broadband access markets by building on its portfolio of semiconductor and filter products. Last December, TriQuint announced it was exiting the pluggable optical module business to focus on indium phosphide components, chips, and subassemblies as part of a repositioning of its optoelectronics business strategy. The bulk of TriQuint’s optoelectronics business came from the 2003 purchase of “a substantial portion” of the optoelectronics business of Agere for $40 million in cash.

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