INDUSTRY REPORT

Three-Five Systems (Tempe, AZ) will purchase the assets, license technology, and hire key employees of the Light Valve business unit of National Semiconductor Corp. (Santa Clara, CA). Three-Five and National formed an alliance in August 1997 to develop miniature flat-panel displays, melding Three-Five's liquid-crystal-display expertise with National's silicon-processing abilities and silicon back-plane technology. Now Three-Five will purchase the physical assets of the business and licen

John Wallace

Three-Five Systems buys National Semiconductor unit

Three-Five Systems (Tempe, AZ) will purchase the assets, license technology, and hire key employees of the Light Valve business unit of National Semiconductor Corp. (Santa Clara, CA). Three-Five and National formed an alliance in August 1997 to develop miniature flat-panel displays, melding Three-Five's liquid-crystal-display expertise with National's silicon-processing abilities and silicon back-plane technology. Now Three-Five will purchase the physical assets of the business and license National's related intellectual property.

FUSE opens its eyes

The Far-Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer (FUSE) satellite, launched by NASA on June 24, has produced its first images. The satellite is designed for study of the 90-120-nm wavelength band, a portion of the spectrum rich in information about stars and interstellar dust and thus the birth and evolution of the universe. Its first image was a 1-s exposure of a star field and two distant galaxies, taken by the satellite's Fine Error Sensor camera, built by the Canadian Space Agency (CSA; Ste. Hubert, Quebec, Canada). Developed and operated by Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, MD) in collaboration with the University of Colorado at Boulder (Boulder, CO), University of California Berkeley (Berkeley, CA), Centre Nationale D'Études Spatiales (Paris, France), and the CSA, FUSE will begin scientific observations within a few weeks of its inaugural image capture.

Philips and LG Electronics join forces to manufacture displays

Philips Flat Display Systems (San Jose, CA), a business group of Royal Philips Electronics (Eindhoven, The Netherlands), and LG Electronics (Seoul, South Korea) finalized a previously announced manufacturing joint-venture agreement to create what they say is the world's largest supplier of active-matrix liquid-crystal displays. Philips has taken a 50% stake in LG's wholly owned LCD business valued at $1.6 billion. The new company will begin as a manufacturing and technology joint venture with the potential to develop into a full joint venture. Headquarters will be in Seoul, with two facilities in production in Kumi and another one under construction.

PhotoSense and Beckman Laser Institute to commercialize medical sensor

PhotoSense LLC (Boulder, CO) and the Beckman Laser Institute at the University of California, Irvine (Irvine, CA) will collaborate in commercializing a noninvasive medical sensing technology developed by the Beckman Laser Institute and based on the detection of low-level laser light. Called frequency-domain photon migration, the technology measures and compensates for scattering and absorption present in tissue. PhotoSense will contribute its expertise in digital-signal-processing software and hardware. Uses include the detection of cancer and the analysis of blood and burn wounds.

SpatiaLight finds volume manufacturer

SpatiaLight (Novato, CA), a developer of liquid-crystal-on-silicon (LCOS) microdisplays, announced that it will transfer portions of its technology to Varitronix Limited (Tseung Kawan O, Hong Kong), a LCOS foundry and manufacturer of liquid-crystal displays. The agreement between the two companies provides for Varitronix to take SpatiaLight's process techniques to volume production. The resulting microdisplays will be used in projectors, rear-projection monitors, televisions, and head-mounted displays. Varitronix is building a 5000-sq ft cleanroom intended to handle the manufacture of 100,000 microdisplays per month.

Also in the news . . .

The former test-and-measurement business unit of Hewlett-Packard (Palo Alto, CA) has renamed itself Agilent Technologies. . . . EG&G Reticon (Santa Clara, CA) has selected Thomson-CSF Semiconducteurs Specifiques (Saint Egréve, France) as its foundry partner and potential codeveloper of image-sensor technology.

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