News Briefs

L-3 acquisition

L-3 Communications (New York, NY) has agreed to acquire SSG Precision Optronics (Wilmington, MA and Richmond, CA), subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed. The business is expected to have annual sales of approximately $60 million, and will be included in L-3’s Sensors and Simulation Group. SSG specializes in optics, telescopes and precision optical subsystems for government, military and commercial customers. The company is a leader in the design and manufacture of high performance optical components, sensors and subsystems for the space and tactical military markets. SSG’s customer base includes Department of Defense prime contractors as well as government agencies and laboratories. SSG provides optical systems and telescopes for space, missile and airborne applications.

Laser designators

The Advanced Optical Systems Division of Adaptive Optics Associates (AOA; Blackwood, NJ) has been awarded a $6.5 million contract from Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems to develop technology to improve laser designators used to identify battlefield targets. AOA, a subsidiary of imaging and scanning solutions provider Metrologic Instruments, was previously awarded and completed a $153,000 contract. This new contract, part of the High-Precision Long-Range Laser Designator/Locator (HPLD) Program, has a potential value of $6.5 million and is expected to be completed in the third quarter of 2009.

CEO leaves

Vahe Sarkissian has stepped down as chairman, president, and CEO of FEI (Hillsboro, OR) and will be leaving the company. Sarkissian, who joined the company in 1998, will also resign as a director prior to the company’s annual shareholder meeting on May 11. Raymond Link, chief financial officer, has been appointed to act as interim chief executive officer and will retain his chief financial officer role while the company conducts a search for a successor CEO. In the meantime, FEI has formed an internal management committee comprised of Peter Frasso, executive vice president and chief operating officer; Robert Fastenau, senior vice president and general manager of the nanoresearch, industry and nanobiology market divisions; and Robert Gregg, executive vice president of worldwide sales and service.

FEI has been on the slate to be merged or acquired at least twice in recent years. At the end of 2002, a $1 billion deal to merge with Veeco Instruments (Woodbury, NY) fell through. More recently, FEI terminated discussions to be acquired by Carl Zeiss AG of Germany.

CMOS sensor

Dalsa Corporation (Waterloo, Ontario, Canada) received a contract to develop and supply CMOS image sensor chips for a leading manufacturer of dental x-ray equipment. The contract, which is expected to be completed over the next 12 months, is valued at CDN $1.5 million (US$1.3 million) and has the potential for significant follow-on volume, according to Dalsa. The chips will allow the system to capture more detail with higher contrast and lower radiation doses and will make the x-ray process more comfortable for patients.

Joint venture

Olympus Corporation (Tokyo, Japan) and Movaz Networks (San Jose, CA) have created a joint venture company, named Olympus Microsystems America, to provide cutting edge Micro Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS) based technologies and products for optical equipment suppliers worldwide. Combining Movaz IP and engineering resources with Olympus’ established MEMS foundry services and optical technology will result in a new company with the capability to develop, manufacture and market new products with anticipated gross sales of 6 billion Japanese yen (approximately US$60 million) within five years, the companies said. Olympus Microsystems America will be based in San Jose with Olympus Partnership Development Group Vice President Lawrence Wang serving as the president of the new company.

New website

A new website for organizations involved with the manufacture, demonstration, installation, evaluation, alignment, optimization, and certification of optical fiber based communication systems is being introduced by M2 Optics (Holly Springs, NC). The M2 Optics website features a line of field simulation and test box equipment, test instruments, LGX compatible products, and accessories such as patch cords, splitters, and adapters. The M2 Optics website is www.m2optics.com.

OLED partners

Novaled (Dresden, Germany) and Ciba Specialty Chemicals have formed an industrial collaboration in the field of OLED materials. Ciba Specialty Chemicals will produce the unique organic dopant and transport materials developed by Novaled; the materials will be used in Novaled’s proprietary OLED technology and are designed to enable high power efficiency. While Ciba Specialty Chemicals will produce these materials using its specific know how in the synthesis of organic materials in reliable highest purity, Novaled will continue to market the materials. The two companies will also collaborate in the development of future OLED products and platforms based on the Novaled’s technology and materials.

AFM grant

Infinitesima (Oxford, England), developer of the VideoAFM, has been selected by the UK Government Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) for a Grant for Research and Development. The grant will allow Infinitesima to advance its leadership position in atomic force microscopy (AFM) technology. The VideoAFM is used by researchers to view dynamic processes at the molecular level. The instrument also allows users to work with atomic force microscopes in the same manner as an optical microscope, scanning samples and viewing processes in real-time. Because of its ability to view dynamic molecular processes in real-time, the VideoAFM is becoming a fundamental tool in the fast-growing area of Bio-Nanotechnology research.

Optical forensics

Armor Holdings (Jacksonville, FL), a manufacturer and distributor of security products and vehicle armor systems serving military, law-enforcement, homeland security, and commercial markets, acquired 100% of the stock of Swiss-Photonics AG (Heerbrugg, Switzerland). Swiss-Photonics, through its trade name, Projectina, manufactures, markets and distributes highly specialized document examination equipment used in verifying document authenticity and detecting counterfeit currency and crime lab microscopes used to evaluate ballistics and bullet casings. Projectina also develops optical subsystems for leading electronic original equipment manufacturers. Projectina successfully serves the forensics, homeland security and crime scene markets, predominantly in Europe and Asia. Projectina generated revenue of approximately $9.2 million in 2005.

Laser projector

Light Blue Optics (Cambridge, England), developer of the PVPro laser projection technology for projectors, has been awarded a £75,000 ($130,600) grant towards the development of its miniature color prototype. The research and development funding is part of the U.K. Department of Trade and Industry scheme, and grants were awarded by the East of England Development Agency to some of the region’s most innovative and idea-driven companies. In February 2006, Light Blue Optics announced a “micro-mini” monochrome unit that is similar in size and shape to a typical matchbox (62 cc in volume). The EEDA award will help contribute to the next generation of this unit, which will use three miniature lasers to display full color video images.

LCM purchase

Molecular Devices (Sunnyvale, CA) has acquired the Laser Capture Microdissection (LCM) related business of Arcturus Bioscience for $10 million in cash. According to the company, the deal expands Molecular Devices’ life sciences product portfolio to include complete systems and reagents for LCM, a sample preparation technology for genomic and protein analysis. In particular, the combination of LCM products with Molecular Devices’ current detection offerings broadens Molecular Devices’ life sciences product portfolio and creates complete microgenomics platforms.

Arcturus, founded in 1996 by Thomas Baer, has been a pioneer in the field of LCM (Baer recently assumed the position of executive director of the Stanford Photonics Research Center at Stanford University). Molecular Devices hired 42 former Arcturus employees that were associated with the LCM business. All of the LCM operations and employees will immediately move to Molecular Devices’ headquarters in Sunnyvale, CA. Molecular Devices did not obtain any Arcturus facilities in connection with this transaction.

Memory repair

GSI Group (Billerica, MA), a manufacturer of laser-based semiconductor manufacturing systems announced today, that it has received a $6 million order for its memory repair systems from an existing customer. The order is expected to be shipped in the second and third quarters. Commenting on the order, Nino Federico, VP and General Manager of the laser systems group, said, “This order indicates that the semiconductor markets we serve remain strong.”

Diode bar record

OSRAM Opto Semiconductors (San Jose, CA), a developer of infrared laser products and technology, says its laser bars have set a new world efficiency record of 808 nm at an optical output of 120 W. This latest breakthrough was achieved in concert with laser specialists DILAS Diodenlaser GmbH. The two companies have combined their technology expertise as part of the BRILASI (Brilliant High-Power Laser Diodes for Industrial Applications) research project. The high-performance laser bars are prototypes for a new generation of diode lasers and are designed primarily to pump solid-state lasers in applications such as automobile industry welding.

“This 10% efficiency increase is a direct result of the combined efforts of OSRAM’s expertise in chip fabrication and DILAS’ skills in assembly and cooling systems,” said Ellen Sizemore, North American director, LED and IR Products Group, OSRAM Opto Semiconductors.

Machine vision

Daitron (Wilsonville, OR) has acquired the Chori America CCD Camera Division. This addition expands Daitron’s product line and provides additional personnel strength to service the camera hardware customer, according to Toshi Moritani, CEO and President of Daitron. “With this additional expertise and product availability we can better serve the needs of the machine vision customers and provide streamlined service,” Moritani said. Introduction of new products from Asian sources will also be enhanced with the synergy of the two companies. Daitron offers a full line of machine vision inspection hardware including cameras, lenses, lighting solutions, frame grabbers, custom cables, and power supplies.

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