News Briefs

Pipeline inspection: Breault Research Organization (BRO; Tucson, AZ) has reached an agreement to provide key test and service-line equipment to Synodon (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada), providing the first optical service system for wide-range aerial inspection of gas pipelines.

Pipeline inspection: Breault Research Organization (BRO; Tucson, AZ) has reached an agreement to provide key test and service-line equipment to Synodon (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada), providing the first optical service system for wide-range aerial inspection of gas pipelines. Synodon has awarded BRO a contract to fabricate, assemble and test a proto-flight version of Synodon’s realSens radiometer designed to identify gas pipeline leaks using correlation spectroscopy. Two previous BRO contracts with Synodon called for completion of detailed design and analyses of the realSens radiometer.

According to Synodon CEO Adrian Banica, once the verification of the device is complete, Synodon will subcontract to BRO the fabrication of up to 25 more units over the next five years. realSens will be targeted at companies operating natural gas pipeline networks. Unlike existing services, Synodon says realSens will be able to cover approximately 100 km each hour and detect early-stage leaks before they become problematic.

Image sensing: e2v technologies (Chelmsford, England) has been awarded a £4 million (US$7.3 million) image sensor contract to design and supply image sensors for the primary scientific instrument on the European Space Agency’s astronomical satellite, Gaia. This contract win follows the earlier contracts worth a total of £10.9m (€16.3m), as advised in June 2005. Scheduled for launch in 2011, Gaia aims to map the Milky Way by logging the 1 billion stars and over 100,000 objects in our solar system, creating the largest, most accurate 3D map of the galaxy to date.

Sales/service alliance: Automation Engineering Incorporated (AEi; Wilmington, MA), a supplier of high-precision assembly automation systems, has formed a sales and service alliance with Palomar Technologies (Carlsbad, CA) to jointly promote AEi’s optoelectronics manufacturing automation systems for the Asian and European markets. AEi is not disclosing further terms of the alliance. According to the company, the alliance supports AEI’s rapid growth with regional sales and local service capabilities close to its customers in the United Kingdom, Germany, Singapore, and Hong Kong.

AEi and Palomar have shared technology stemming back to 2000 when both AEi and Palomar’s optoelectronics divisions were under the Axsys Technologies umbrella. AEi automation systems often use Palomar’s FAST 6 motion stage for high precision motion applications, including active optoelectronic alignment, assembly, and test.

New GM: CVI (Covina, CA) appointed Shahram Khalil as its new general manager. Khalil will report to Mark West, Vice President of Operations. Prior to joining CVI, Khalil was senior product/program manager for ESS Technology, which develops camera phones for wireless handsets. Previous to ESS, Khalil was a director of product development for Newport Corporation.

Micro-machining: Synova (Lausanne, Switzerland), a developer of water jet-guided laser technology, announced that it will open its first micro-machining center in the United States, specifically in the San Francisco area. Slated to open in January 2007, the center will serve as a competence center for demonstration, sample testing and application development. In addition, this facility will offer micro-machining services to local industry. Until now, the company’s application labs were based at Synova’s headquarters in Switzerland. The company said the establishment of a customer support center in the U.S. fortifies its global expansion efforts, providing an optimum environment for the company to better serve its customers throughout the world.

Patent rights: IMRA America (Ann Arbor, MI) and Naval Research Laboratories (NRL; Washington D.C. have signed an agreement giving IMRA to exclusive rights to market, license and enforce an NRL-owned patent, U.S. #6,496,301, “Helical Fiber Amplifier.” With this agreement, IMRA will license the rights to use this patent and share proceeds with NRL. This patent, along with others owned by IMRA, are key in the current and future development of high power fiber lasers. This technology is important in welding and marking applications as well as other high-growth market areas for fiber lasers.

UV ink: DataLase (formerly Sherwood Technology; Widnes, Cheshire, England) is collaborating with Zeller+Gmelin (Eislingen, Germany), a manufacturer of UV high quality specialty printing inks. This partnership will see Zeller+Gmelin marketing a complete range of inks produced using DataLase’s patented DataLase process via a non-exclusive license agreement. The agreement combines DataLase’s expertise in laser responsive color change chemistry and Zeller+Gmelin’s established experience as a global manufacturer of UV high quality specialty printing inks. It also enables Zeller+Gmelin to develop the DataLase PACKMARK solution and distribute it to their global network of subsidiaries and distributors.

Strategic partners: Princeton Instruments/Acton (PI/Acton; Trenton, NJ) and Lambda Solutions (LSI) have formed a strategic partnership to develop and deploy LSI’s spectroscopy solutions to end-user and OEM customers. According to the companies, combining PI/Acton’s ISO manufacturing and engineering design expertise with Lambda’s knowledge of the Raman spectroscopy market will yield highly targeted solutions matched to specialized application demands. PI/Acton, which designs and manufactures high-performance, camera, spectrograph and optics based solutions for the imaging, x-ray, spectroscopy and surveillance markets, will bring scalability to Lambda’s manufacturing needs as well as custom detection solutions to be incorporated into LSI’s current and planned suite of Raman solutions.

European distributor: Newly formed M SQUARED Lasers (Glasgow, Scotland), founded by industry veterans Graeme Malcolm and Gareth Maker, has appointed Elliot Scientific to distribute their complete product range throughout Europe. The first product released by M SQUARED is the LIM-DD-70 Laser.

Blue lasers: Paced by anticipated sales of blue laser players, game consoles, PC drives, and related media, the blue laser disc technology market is expected to exceed $28 billion in sales in 2010, according to Santa Clara Consulting Group (SCCG; Santa Clara, CA). Growth will be driven by six sub-segments, according to a report released in mid-July, “Blu-ray and HD DVD Disc Technologies: Pursuit of a New Standard.” SCCG estimates that the game console segment, supported by sales of the PlayStation 3, will have the most important influence on the blue laser disc technology market, with more than half of the $2 billion in revenue for 2006. Content, including movies and games, will represent half of this market’s revenues in 2010.

Other important markets expected to offer significant growth potential are blue laser technology players, with nearly $4 billion of sales in 2010; blue laser technology movies, with $3 billion of sales; blue laser technology game consoles, with $6 billion of sales; blue laser technology games, with $10 billion of sales; blue laser technology PC drives, with $4 billion; and blue laser technology blank media with $400 million of sales.

LED sales: Shares of the Cree (Durham, NC) fell 21% to close at $17.73 on July 13, following the company’s announcement that its fiscal fourth quarter earnings would not meet expectations. Company officials said that lower sales of Cree’s LEDs would result in revenue of $106.7 million, “at the low end” of Cree’s previously targeted range of $106 million to $110 million. The company also said it expects that 2007 first quarter LED chip sales “may decline slightly” from 2006 fourth quarter sales due to a slowdown in demand for mobile products such as cell phones. Cree said the slowdown should be offset by increased sales of other products. Cree plans to release final fiscal 2006 fourth quarter results on Aug. 10.

DARPA contract: The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) selected Lumera (Bothell, WA) among competing companies to award it a $3.45 million contract which, based on the achievements of certain milestones, will be followed by a $2.43 million contract for a total of $5.8 million. The contract is to build state-of-the-art electro-optic polymer modulators. The scope of the two-year multi-phase project involves developing materials with unprecedented electro-optic coefficients, with qualified thermal and photo-stability and processing them into devices.

The objective of the project is to provide high performance polymer optical modulators that are critical in leading-edge defense applications, including terrestrial and satellite RF photonic links and phased array radar. These devices will be manufactured by transitioning recently developed electro-optic polymers into novel device designs to reduce drive voltage and optical loss.

Fiber-laser contracts: Aculight (Bothell, WA) has secured four new contracts totaling more than $2 million to enhance the capabilities of its Picasso line of erbium-ytterbium fiber lasers and 1-µm ytterbium fiber lasers for applications ranging from undersea communications to three-dimensional laser radar (LADAR). Under a $70,000 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I award, Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command has contracted Aculight to develop a compact blue/green fiber laser for high-speed undersea communications. Under a Navy Phase II SBIR contract for $750,000, Aculight will develop a compact, efficient, green fiber laser for use in extended range underwater imaging. The company will work with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego to integrate the laser into a novel imager for inclusion on underwater unmanned vehicles.

Under a $750,000 Air Force Phase II SBIR contract,Aculight will produce a high-peak-power, 1.5-µm erbium-ytterbium fiber laser for integration into a 3-D LADAR system. The Naval Air Warfare Center also contracted Aculight to build a multichannel, high-peak-power, eye-safe fiber-laser transmitter for a multifunction LADAR system to undergo captive flight tests aboard a T-39 aircraft.


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