OPTICS INDUSTRY REPORT

According to a technical market report issued by BCC Research (Wellesley, MA), the U.S. market for sol-gel processing of ceramics and glass is expected to reach $500 million by 2011 at an average annual growth rate of 8.7%.

Sol-gel processing is a billion-dollar market

According to a technical market report issued by BCC Research (Wellesley, MA), the U.S. market for sol-gel processing of ceramics and glass is expected to reach $500 million by 2011 at an average annual growth rate of 8.7%. The global market for sol-gel products in 2006 was $1 billion; this is forecast to increase to $1.4 billion by 2011 with an AAGR of 6.3%.

Sol gel is a low-temperature method of fabricating glass in shapes that can range from simple to very intricate. High-quality optical elements are possible, as are doped materials (even containing organic dyes) suitable for laser-gain media. The U.S. has become the global leader in research and development. However, Japan is able to commercialize sol-gel technology and market products faster. The total number of U.S. patents has been declining in the projection period from 1999. European competition to the U.S. is mainly from Germany.

Jenoptik opens plastic-optics production center

By changing its name to Jenoptik Polymer Systems (JPS) Wahl Optoparts is taking an important step in the new Jenoptik Group by opening a new production building for plastic optics and optical systems-the largest and most modern in Europe-in the town of Triptis in Thuringia, Germany.

Four sites operated by Jenoptik’s subsidiaries have been brought together under one roof in the new building within the Triptis industrial park, encompassing an investment of around $11.5 million-excluding equipment. In the new production facility JPS will be able to manufacture plastic optics more efficiently than in the past.

Barr Associates acquires OCC

To increase its capabilities and coating capacity to better address the growing demand for products in the IR wavelength region, Barr Associates (Westford, MA) has signed a definitive agreement to acquire the assets of Optical Coating (OCC; Natick, MA).

Optical Coating was founded in 2002 by former employees of Optical Filter (OFC). In 2000, OFC (then called NetOptix) was acquired by Corning. The subsequent shutdown of the thin-film-coating facility, resulting from the softening of the telecommunications market, served as the catalyst for the formation of OCC. Since its founding, OCC has targeted and made inroads in serving customers with IR applications. With the acquisition, Barr will have more than 70 active coating-deposition systems and a total of 275 associates.

Ophthonix patents aberration-correcting optics

An 11th patent awarded to Ophthonix (San Diego, CA) covers what the company says is a dramatically different approach to correcting aberrations across virtually any optical system, including telescopes, binoculars, cameras, microscopes, and eyeglasses.

According to the company, conventional efforts to reduce aberrations in an optical system rely on polishing and grinding of the lens. These processes are limited because they are unable to effectively address all aberrations in a simultaneous fashion. By exposing its proprietary material, iZonik, to a controlled light source, Ophthonix says it can correct static aberrations in just about any optical imaging system.

Edmund Optics expands Korean presence

To better serve its customers in rapidly developing Korean high-technology industries, Edmund Optics (EO; Barrington, NJ) has opened its newest division in Seoul, Korea, and introduced a Korean-language version of the Edmund Optics catalog. EO Korea will provide technical support to customers and distributors in the region. In addition, Edmund Optics launched an online e-commerce Web site especially for the Korean market. The site-www.edmundoptics.com/kr-features all 7600 products listed in the print catalog, plus an additional 400 discounted products available only via the Web.

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Also in the news . . .

Spectrometer manufacturer m·u·t (Hamburg, Germany), with subsidiaries in China and the U.S., announced the latest distribution partner for the U.S. market, Laser Components (Hudson, NH). . . . The board of directors of Corning (Corning, NY) approved a capital expenditure plan of $174 million to further expand its Generation (Gen)-eight size liquid-crystal-display (LCD) glass substrates manufacturing capacity at its facility in Shizuoka, Japan. . . . PicoQuant (Berlin, Germany) announced a young investigator (age 35 or below) award worth $750 for the best paper in the session “Ultrasensitive and single-molecule detection technologies (BO127)” at next year’s SPIE Photonics West/BIOS conference in January 2007. . . . Northrop Grumman successfully completed a series of stringent tests for NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) sunshield membrane, a five-layer structure the size of a tennis court that will block solar light and keep the observatory operating at cryogenic temperatures to allow its infrared sensors to see distant space objects.

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