Laser Industry Report

Alpes commercializes quantum-cascade laser; Nordic conference showcases materials processing; Integrated Systems group move allows Opto Power to refocus; and more.

Dec 1st, 1999

Alpes commercializes quantum-cascade laser

Alpes Lasers (Neuchâtel, Switzerland), a spinoff from the University of Neuchâtel, is the first company to offer for sale the quantum-cascade laser—a technology developed at Lucent Technologies' Bell Labs (Murray Hill, NJ) and the subject of research at several universities and corporations worldwide. The company is offering the laser in the form of a starter kit for spectroscopy applications, which is the form expected to generate the most initial interest. Founder Jérôme Faist, one of the inventors of the quantum-cascade laser, joined Mattias Beck and Antoine Muller to form the new company.

Nordic conference showcases materials processing

The 7th Conference on Laser Material Processing in the Nordic countries held at the Lappeenranta University of Technology (Lappeenranta, Finland) in August drew 120 participants from 12 countries. Conference chair Veli Kujanpää noted that the number of high-power lasers (output greater than 500 W) in the Nordic countries has tripled in the 1990s, with Sweden reporting 330 installed units, Denmark 210, Finland 108, and Norway 49. A panel concluded that flashlamp pumping will continue to be used for pulsed Nd:YAG lasers, but improvements in efficiency provided by diode pumping will lead to increased use of diodes for pumping CW Nd:YAG lasers.

Integrated Systems group move allows Opto Power to refocus

Spectra-Physics (Mountain View, CA) has transferred its Integrated Systems group from the company's Opto Power Corporation subsidiary (Tucson, AZ) to the main Mountain View facility. All marketing, engineering, manufacturing, and equipment for the product line are now at Spectra-Physics' main facility. Several new positions have been created to staff and support the Integrated Systems group, which incorporates diode lasers into optical systems. The move will allow Opto Power to focus its growth on diode lasers.

Semiconductor Laser International and Orthogensis Systems enter venture

Semiconductor Laser International (SLI; Binghamton, NY) and Orthogenesis Systems (Buffalo, NY) will codevelop low-level laser systems for medical use. The systems will include laser therapy units to be used in a noninvasive medical treatment based on biostimulation. Areas of application include easing arthritis and chronic pain, as well as accelerating wound healing. If development pans out, the systems may be used by veterinarians. The two firms each have a 50% stake in a joint venture called Orthogenesis Technologies, with SLI granted an exclusive license to manufacture the systems for the term of the venture.

Laser Power suitors get more aggressive

Union Minière (Brussels, Belgium), which had offered to acquire Laser Power Corp. (San Diego, CA) in July 1999, has recently purchased more stock in the company, even as II-VI is in the midst of attempting to buy Laser Power. To defend itself, Laser Power has adopted a shareholder-rights plan under which all shareholders of record as of Oct. 15 will receive rights to purchase shares of a new series of preferred stock. According to the plan, if any person acquires 15% or more of Laser Power common stock, all rights holders except the buyer will be entitled to acquire common stock at a discount, thereby discouraging such acquisitions without negotiations with the Laser Power board of directors. II-VI currently owns 14.7% of Laser Power.

Also in the news . . .

A laser module for use in the US Air Force Airborne Laser missile-defense system has met and exceeded its operational requirements, according to manufacturer TRW (Redondo Beach, CA). . . . Medical diode-laser maker Diomed (Cambridge, England) has relocated to a larger manufacturing facility and European headquarters as part of a long-term business expansion plan. . . . Laser Beam Technology (Hayward, CA) has been founded to offer nonconventional laser processing of materials, laser welding, laser cutting and drilling, and laser engraving.

Hassaun Jones-Bey

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