Laser Industry Report

Aug. 1, 2003
Cree founders face off in legal battle; CST Global wins laser contract for atomic clocks; Laser Technology wins $2.4 million settlement in patent suit; MORE...

Cree founders face off in legal battle

Eric Hunter, former CEO and one of the founders of Cree (Raleigh, NC), has filed a securities lawsuit against Cree and its current chairman, F. Neal Hunter, Eric Hunter's brother. Eric Hunter and his wife are seeking to recover damages in excess of $3 billion for unspecified harm resulting from the alleged conduct of the defendants, plus an injunction against future harassment.

The complaint alleges that the defendants have defamed Eric Hunter by making unspecified false statements about him to members of his family and individuals associated with Cree. It also asserts that beginning in August 1995 the defendants violated employment and federal securities laws and have sought to discourage the plaintiffs from pursuing legal remedies or reporting matters to securities regulators.

According to Cree, over the last few years Eric Hunter has brought general and vague allegations of wrongdoing to the attention of Cree. These allegations were referred to independent directors of Cree who, after investigating the matter, found no wrongdoing on the part of Cree or its officers. Cree has filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit.

CST Global wins laser contract for atomic clocks

CST Global (Glasgow, Scotland) has been awarded a contract for the development of reliable laser diodes that could eventually be implemented in laser-pumped atomic clocks. The contract has been awarded by ESTEC, the Technical Evaluation Centre of the European Space Agency, which is overseeing the development of atomic clocks for space. For these new types of atomic clocks, it is first necessary to demonstrate a frequency standard using a laser-pumped gas cell. According to CST, the most suitable lasers for this demonstration are diode lasers operating at 780 nm for the Rubidium atomic frequency standard.

Laser Technology wins $2.4 million settlement in patent suit

Laser Technology (Englewood, CO) reached settlement agreements with Asia Optical and Nikon that resolve Laser Technology's patent infringement lawsuit against Asia Optical and Nikon. The settlement agreement with Asia Optical includes a one-time cash payment of $2.4 million, which will be subject to corporate income taxes, and an ongoing royalty license agreement. Laser Technology entered into a mutual release with Nikon based upon the settlement with Asia Optical.

Laser Technology filed its complaint against Nikon in February 2000, alleging that Nikon's sale of the Nikon Laser 800 series of laser rangefinders willfully infringes a Laser Technology patent relating to low-cost, consumer laser rangefinders. The complaint was later amended to add manufacturer Asia Optical as a defendant and to add two additional patents obtained by Laser Technology. Last April, a jury ruled in Laser Technology's favor in the lawsuit.

Prosthetics to benefit from laser measurement technique

Shearography, a noncontact laser-based strain measurement technique developed at Loughborough University (Leicestershire, England), is being used to visualize for the first time the strain distribution over bones and tendons and enhance the development of new designs for longer lasting, superior performance prostheses. Developed from work in laser speckle techniques at Loughborough University, the Strain Mapper instrument is a PC-based measuring tool for determining both strain and surface changes in objects and systems that uses a continuous-wave diode-pumped solid-state laser (532 nm, 200 mW).

To date, studies have shown that femurs with prostheses are stiffened by the implant and produce strain patterns that are very different from natural joints when realistic loads are applied. The femur then grows to compensate for this load, which can be a factor in the failure of a prosthesis.

Also in the news . . .

JPSA Laser (Hollis, NH) has expanded its contract UV-laser micromachining services for applications ranging from semiconductor processing to biomedical and blue-LED wafer scribing. The facility now houses 10 UV-laser workstations and a host of diagnostic equipment for laser process development and characterization. . . . The American Nuclear Society has awarded the 2003 Edward Teller Medal to Laurance Suter, a veteran researcher at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (Livermore, CA) and an expert in the design and utilization of hohlraums. Spectra-Physics (Mountain View, CA) has appointed Arnd Krueger to lead a new cross-functional team entirely focused on ultrafast lasers and applications. Most recently, Krueger was marketing director at Spectra-Physics, responsible for ultrafast products and other laser systems targeted at the laboratory market.

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