Optics Industry Report

Following its purchase of Liebmann Optical Company (Easthampton, MA) in 1999 and Coastal Optical Systems (West Palm Beach, FL) in 2002, the Jenoptik Group (Jena, Germany) is further expanding its micro-optics business with the acquisition of MEMS Optical (Huntsville, AL).

Mar 1st, 2006

Jenoptik acquires another U.S. firm

Following its purchase of Liebmann Optical Company (Easthampton, MA) in 1999 and Coastal Optical Systems (West Palm Beach, FL) in 2002, the Jenoptik Group (Jena, Germany) is further expanding its micro-optics business with the acquisition of MEMS Optical (Huntsville, AL). MEMS Optical develops, fabricates, and distributes micro-optic components using grayscale lithography, which enables the manufacturing of many shapes in miniaturized form. According to Jenoptik, the deal will allow its photonics division, Jenoptik Laser, Optik, Systeme, to broaden its technical expertise in the development and manufacture of micro-optic components and microstructures. It will also give Jenoptik international distribution channels in the United States and Japan.

OSA applauds Bush administration

The Optical Society of America (OSA; Washington, D.C.) praised U.S. president George W. Bush’s emphasis on innovation in his annual State of the Union address. The President said he would include $5.9 billion in additional funds for research, math, and science education, and tax incentives in his 2007 budget request. In addition, in the next ten years, the administration plans to double research budgets at the National Science Foundation (NSF), National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and the Department of Energy Office of Science. He also proposed training 70,000 high school teachers to lead advanced-placement courses in math and science, and bring 30,000 math and science professionals into classrooms.

Schott mirrors aid star formation findings

The twin Keck Telescopes in Hawaii, the largest in the world, both of which use Schott (Duryea, PA) Zerodur low-expansion glass ceramic mirrors, played key roles in the DEEP2 (Deep Extragalactic Evolutionary Probe) team’s discoveries that stars are formed largely by materials within galaxies, rather than violently through massive galactic collisions/mergers. The findings were presented at the American Astronomical Society meeting in January this year.

“The two Keck Telescopes are the largest optical telescopes ever built and we’re pleased that a mirror from Schott Optics for Devices is the heart of these great instruments,” said Steve Sokach, director of sales at Schott North America. Building on the success of Zerodur mirrors, the European Southern Observatory is planning a 100-m telescope, called OWL (Overwhelmingly Large), with a mirror diameter larger than a football field.

Omega helps bring comet dust home

In January, NASA’s Stardust satellite returned to earth from a 2.88 billion-mile, seven-year roundtrip journey, with dust from the tail of comet Wild 2 collected with the aid of filters from Omega Optical (Brattleboro, VT). Approximately two years ago, the satellite passed within 149 miles of the comet, collecting samples and sending back images of the comet’s surface using a camera equipped with Omega filters. In its 35-year history, Omega Optical has provided filters for other prestigious astronomy projects, including the Widefield Planetary Cameras 1 and 2 on the Hubble Space Telescope, which were equipped with Omega filters in 1991 and 2003, and the Martian Exploration Rovers Spiritand Opportunity, which are still sending back images from the surface of Mars after more than a year on the surface of the planet.

Ocean Optics studies Hope Diamond

When the Smithsonian Institution invited scientists from the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) to study the optical properties of a suite of colored diamonds, including the famous Hope Diamond, it called in Ocean Optics (Dunedin, FL). Roy Walters of Ocean Optics was part of a team that conducted spectroscopy tests on the 45.52-carat Hope Diamond and 239 other diamonds. It was a rare opportunity to study optical defects in natural diamonds with color. The NRL creates synthetic diamonds to research their use as thermal, optical, and electrically semiconducting materials for Department of Defense applications. Learning about the impurities inherent to natural diamonds is an important foundation to understanding the defects observed in synthetic diamonds.

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Also in the news . . .

Melles Griot Optics Group (Rochester, NY) is making its thin-film coating capability available to customers who need optical coating services for their own substrates. . . . Spectroscopy instrument specialist McPherson (Chelmsford, MA) provided components that enabled commissioning of the Soft X-ray Analytics Facility at the Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe (Karlsruhe, Germany) synchrotron radiation storage ring known as ANKA. . . . Metastable Instruments (St. Peters, MO) received its third patent, U.S. Patent 6,992,843 for refractive light-beam steerers used in airborne laser radar applications. . . . Structured Materials Industries (SMI; Piscataway, NJ) received phase II funding from the U.S. Air Force to develop a large-area vapor-deposition tool to produce very-low-absorption (VLA) optical coatings.

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