Optics Industry Report

PPGI acquires Laser Optics; Special Optics wins Phase II SBIR contract; Corning to deliver mirror blanks for Lowell Observatory; MORE...

PPGI acquires Laser Optics

Photonic Products Group (PPGI; Northvale, NJ) acquired the assets and certain liabilities of Laser Optics (Bethel, CT) for an undisclosed sum in a cash transaction. PPGI has retained the entire Laser Optics workforce, including founder and president Philip Heinrich and general manager James Larin. Laser Optics' lines of business will be merged with PPGI's INRAD custom optics and thin-film-services businesses and will do business as Laser Optics, a PPGI company.

Laser Optics was founded in 1966. The company's primary business is the creation of precision custom optical components, infrared optical components, and specialty thin-film coatings and reticles for aerospace/defense, metrology, and medical OEM customers and other customers in the components arena. According to Dan Lehrfeld, president and CEO of PPGI, Laser Optics' reputation in thin films, laser optics, and spherical components is a complimentary fit with INRAD's plano-plano optics, polarizing optics, laser optics, and high-performance thin-film coatings.

Special Optics wins Phase II SBIR contract

Special Optics (Wharton, NJ) has won a Phase II SBIR contract from the U. S. Army White Sands Missile Range. The award of $730,000 is a two-year contract to design and manufacture a motorized zoom-lens system to image missiles during flight testing. The input aperture of the system is 300 mm, and the f-number ranges from ƒ/4 to ƒ/32. The lens system will provide high-resolution imaging over the visible spectrum in a desert environment.
J. Michael Finlan is program manager.

Corning to deliver mirror blanks for Lowell Observatory

The Lowell Observatory (Flagstaff, AZ) has selected Corning (Corning, NY) to manufacture and deliver the mirror blanks for the Discovery Channel Telescope (DCT). At its manufacturing facility in Canton, NY, Corning will create a blank approximately 4.4 m in diameter for the DCT's primary mirror and another blank approximately 1.4 m in diameter for the telescope's secondary mirror . The blanks will be made of Corning's proprietary ULE glass. The telescope is expected to be fully operational in 2008.

University of Rochester to expand bio-optics

According to a report in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle (Nov. 26, 2003), the University of Rochester (NY) hopes to begin construction in early 2005 on a $30 million building that would house the department of biomedical engineering and as expansion space for the Institute of Optics, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. According to Wayne Knox, director of the Institute of Optics, the project should help solidify the university's rapidly growing biomedical engineering program, put more focus on biomedical optics research, and lead to spin-off companies. It is also expected to lead to an increase in biomedical optics courses.

The university is raising money for the endeavor, which is expected to be completed in mid-2006. In 2002, the university netted a $3 million donation toward the project from Charles Munnerlyn, a 1969 institute graduate and a pioneer in laser vision-correction surgery. And in late 2003, the Whitaker Foundation, which supports biomedical research and education, announced it would give $3 million.

AOA wins four-year telescope contract

The Advanced Optical Systems Division of Adaptive Optics Associates (AOA; Cambridge, MA), a subsidiary of Metrologics (Blackwood, NJ), has been awarded a four-year contract potentialy worth $1 million from Ball Aerospace & Technologies (Boulder, CO) to provide an electro-optic alignment subsystem for the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), which is a next-generation successor to the Hubble Space Telescope. Because of the increased light-collecting power of its larger mirror and the sensitivity of its instruments to infrared light, the JWST will be able to look deeper into the universe than the Hubble. The JWST design calls for light to be collected by a mosaic of 18 hexagonal mirror segments, each measuring 1.3 m across. AOA is responsible for developing a subsystem that will monitor and align each of these segments so that the entire system acts as one powerful imaging telescope.

Also in the news . . .

Photo Sciences (Torrance, CA) has developed a method for transferring greyscale optics or graphics directly from a bitmap or other image file to a more permanent substrate material such as borosilicate, quartz, and sodalime. Applications include diffractive laser optics and theatrical projection. . . . Laser-optics manufacturer CVI Laser (Albuquerque, NM) has named Stuart Schoenmann as its new CEO and president. Prior to joining CVI, Schoenmann held executive positions with Raytek, Corning, OCA, and PerkinElmer and has been successful in expanding operations and increasing revenue opportunities.

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