Nortel acquires MEMS-maker CoreTek

April 3, 2000
For up to $1.43 million in stock, Nortel Networks (Brampton, Ontario, Canada) has agreed to acquire privately held CoreTek (Wilmington, MA), a maker of tunable lasers and detectors based on micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) technology.

For up to $1.43 million in stock, Nortel Networks (Brampton, Ontario, Canada) has agreed to acquire privately held CoreTek (Wilmington, MA), a maker of tunable lasers and detectors based on micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) technology. Whereas its competitor Lucent Technologies (Murray Hill, NJ) is developing MEMS-based components internally, Nortel has opted to buy companies developing the technology, recently spending $3.25 billion in stock to buy Xros (Sunnyvale, CA), a maker of MEMS optical switches.

CoreTek is developing a tunable laser that uses a vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser (VCSEL) and an adjustable tuning membrane. CoreTek's MEM-TUNE tunable filter, based on a similar approach, won a 2000 Commercial Technology Achievement award from Laser Focus World. The company has 120 employees and no sales. Pilot production of the tunable laser is scheduled to begin in the fourth quarter, with full production next year. Up to $361 million of the purchase price is contingent on CoreTek reaching milestones for product development and delivery.

The purchase price well rewards the venture-capital backers of CoreTek, which include Broadview International, Adams Capital Management, Hillman Co., Patricof & Co., and Oak Investment Partners, which collectively have put $26 million into the company.

The MEM-LASE from CoreTek is an optically pumped, single-mode, 1550-nm VCSEL that features continuous tuning across the ITU grid. It tunes in nanoseconds and consumes very little power. The first application of the tunable laser should be as a spare for fixed-wavelength transmitters. It can also act as an optical add/drop multiplexer and wavelength converter—a vital function in optical crossconnects.—W. Conard Holton

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