U.S. partners: Corelase Oy (Tampere, Finland), a manufacturer of high-power fiber laser products for materials processing, has partnered with Ergolase (Santa Clara, CA) to expand its presence in the United States. Ergolase is a start-up dedicated to applying emerging laser technologies to high growth markets. Vittorio Fossati-Bellani, president and CEO of Ergolase, said that the robustness and simplicity of fiber lasers make them ideal solutions for a number of large industrial markets. On the new partnership, Harry Asonen, president of Corelase Oy, says that Fossati-Bellani’s long experience at promoting new technologies and applications at Coherent makes him uniquely qualified to take Corelase’ technology into the U.S. market.
“Our aim is to become the supplier of choice for both pulsed and CW high-power fiber lasers, and this partnership brings us a step closer to that goal,” Asonen said.
Machine vision: Cognex Corporation (Natick, MA), a supplier of machine vision sensors and systems, has acquired AssistWare Technology (Gibsonia, PA), a privately held developer of Lane Departure Warning (LDW) systems for the heavy truck market. AssistWare’s LDW system uses a small video camera and machine vision technology to watch the road ahead and alert drivers if they unintentionally leave their lane or if their driving pattern becomes erratic. Cognex will retain AssistWare’s employees and current offices in Gibsonia, which will serve as an Advanced Research and Development center for Cognex’s initiative in this new market area. AssistWare’s founder, Dean Pomerleau, will join Cognex to lead those R&D activities.
Optics acquisition: Barr Associates (Westford, MA) signed a definitive agreement to acquire the assets of Optical Coating Corporation (OCC; Natick, MA). The acquisition is meant to solidify Barr’s position as the largest independent manufacturer of precision thin film coatings and filters. In particular, it increases Barr’s capabilities and coating capacity to better address the growing demand for products in the infrared wavelength region.
OCC was founded in 2002 by Dan Jasinski and 11 other former employees of Optical Filter Corporation (OFC). Since its founding in 1978, OFC has been a leader in the optical filter industry servicing the defense, aerospace and commercial industries. In 2000, OFC (then called NetOptix) was acquired by Corning. The subsequent shut down of the thin film coating facility, resulting from the softening of the telecommunications market, served as the catalyst for the formation of OCC. Since its founding, OCC has targeted customers with infrared applications.
High-power diodes: Quintessence Photonics (Sylmar, CA) Corporation, a subsidiary of QPC Lasers, received a subcontract for the development of high power, high brightness semiconductor lasers as part of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) program for Architecture for Diode High Energy Laser Systems (ADHELS). Quintessence Photonics’ portion of the DARPA award is for $3.1 million, including all phases. The DARPA ADHELS program is a 36 month program dedicated to developing direct electric-to-optical semiconductor laser architectures to produce a new generation of compact high brightness, high energy laser systems for tactical applications.
IC merger: Zarlink Semiconductor (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada) has purchased the optical I/O business of Primarion (Phoenix, AZ), a supplier of digital power conversion ICs (integrated circuits), for US$7 million in cash. The purchase includes Primarion’s optical I/O assets and intellectual property. Zarlink intends to retain all 10 former Primarion I/O group employees. Primarion claims its I/O business is the technology and market leader for laser driver and optical receiver ICs used in multi- lane, parallel fiber optic modules. Several global customers have designed Primarion’s physical layer I/O solutions into optical modules used in enterprise data centers for interconnect applications such as Ethernet, fiber channel and proprietary VSR (very short reach) optical links.
Korean presence: To better serve its customers in rapidly developing Korean high-technology industries, Edmund Optics (Barrington, NJ) has opened its newest division in Seoul, Korea and introduced a Korean-language version of the Edmund Optics catalogue. EO Korea provides technical support to customers and distributors in the region, while the Korean-language catalogue showcases over 400 new products added to Edmund’s off-the-shelf inventory with technical primers translated into Korean. In addition, Edmund Optics has launched an online e-commerce website especially for the Korean market. The site, www.edmundoptics.com/kr, features all 7600 products listed in the print catalogue, plus an additional 400 discounted products available only via the Web.
Universal displays: Universal Display Corporation (Ewing, NJ) was awarded a $1.275 million contract extension from the U.S. Army Communication Electronics Research and Development Engineering Center. The extension will leverage the Company’s achievements under its prior Small Business Innovation Research Phase III contract. Under the extended program, Universal Display, Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), and L-3 Communications will continue developing a flexible, active-matrix OLED display for a wrist-based communications device.
In related news, Universal Display, together with Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation and Mitsubishi Chemical Group Science and Technology Research Center (Tokyo, Japan), have entered into an agreement to collaborate on the development of materials for phosphorescent OLED displays that are processible through solution or “wet” processing methods such as ink jet printing. Universal Display is also collaborating with Nippon Steel Chemical Co. (Tokyo, Japan), to develop new markets for red phosphorescent OLED materials.
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Fiber laser design: RSoft Design Group (Ossining, NY), a leader in photonics design automation software, and Liekki Corporation, a supplier of highly doped optical fibers, announced the upcoming release of a new module for RSoft’s OptSim optical communication simulation platform. The module will incorporate fiber laser and amplifier subsystems designed with Liekki Application Designer (LAD) into OptSim’s system environment. This is the first time state-of-the-art fiber-laser simulation provided by a manufacturer will be available within an optical communication simulation platform. Users will benefit from the module by being able to comprehensively study the impact of erbium- and ytterbium-doped fiber lasers and amplifiers in the context of full-system designs.
E/O surveillance: Northrop Grumman (Rolling Meadows, IL) announced that flight testing is under way for the new Electro-Optical Surveillance and Detection System intended for the U.K. Ministry of Defence’s NIMROD MRA-4 aircraft. NIMROD MRA-4 is currently undergoing extensive flight trials, with BAE Systems the prime contractor. For its part in the ongoing two-year NIMROD MRA-4 in-service reliability maintainability demonstration program, Northrop Grumman’s Defensive Systems Division is providing flight-test support to include software development and flight test personnel training in addition to fielding inquiries regarding the system.
Series A: Nistica (Bridgewater, NJ), a new optical subsystems developer in the telecommunications market, has received Series A funding from PA Early Stage, Technology Venture Partners and other investors. The company has developed a new class of intelligent optical modules to enable edge networks to scale at healthy margins, and rapidly deliver bandwidth for the new wave of consumer multimedia and enterprise wavelength services. William Cadogan, former chairman and CEO of ADC and investor in Nistica, is the chairman of Nistica’s board of directors. Nistica was founded by longstanding telecom technology veterans Thomas Strasser and Jefferson Wagener, and is led by CEO Ashish Vengsarkar.
Application lab: IMRA America (Ann Arbor, MI) signed an agreement with Lehrstuhl für Lasertechnik (LLT) RWTH University Aachen / Fraunhofer Institut für Lasertechnik (Aachen, Germany) for the creation of a Premier Application Laboratory (PAL). The purpose of this collaborative facility agreement is to accelerate opportunities for feasibility studies using IMRA’s advanced ultrafast fiber lasers in Europe, and foster research with LLT into a larger array of material processing applications using fiber-laser amplified systems. The agreement allows LLT to receive IMRA’s latest FCPA laser technology, providing high-repetition rate micro-Joule level pulses. Within the LLT facility, which is located in Aachen, the laser will be a major component in a laboratory setup for application tests to be performed by LLT and by others. Time will be allotted for use of the equipment by interested researchers and engineers through agreements with either the LLT directly or with IMRA America.
Solar cells: In mid-May, Troy Hammond, VP of Products at Plextronics (Pittsburgh, PA), spoke to the U.S. Congress’ Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality on the topic of "Unlocking America’s Energy Resources: Next Generation." Specifically, he addressed the opportunity for new solar technologies, such as Plextronics’ Plexcore PV, to utilize sunlight as a commercially viable source of renewable energy. Polymer solar cells will be thin, light-weight products that can even be flexible and portable. The key components, which Plextronics develops, can be printed in a manner similar to printing a newspaper.
"Today’s solar technology is not cost competitive," stated Andrew Hannah, Plextronics’ President and CEO. "Polymer solar cells have an opportunity to decrease the cost of solar power, which currently ranges from 25 to 50 cents, down to 10 cents per kilowatt-hour. That price point meets the President’s objective of reducing the cost of solar cell technologies so that they are cost competitive by 2015."
Laser displays: Rockwell Collins (Cedar Rapids, IA) acquired the visual simulation business of Evans & Sutherland (Salt Lake City, UT) for $71.5 million cash. The deal includes simulation facilities in Salt Lake City, Orlando, and the United Kingdom, and 200 former Evans & Sutherland employees have joined Rockwell Collins. Evans & Sutherland developed hardware and software used by the military and aerospace industry for simulation, training, and engineering but has refocused on the planetarium and laser projector business.