OPTICS INDUSTRY REPORT

A $15 million Series D financing round led by Electro Scientific Industries (ESI; Portland, OR)-a supplier of production laser systems for microengineering applications-was closed by Axsun Technologies (Billerica, MA) to enhance its microelectromechanical systems (MEMS)-based core “spectral engine” offerings in industrial process spectroscopy, including the pharmaceutical, homeland-security, and optical-communications markets.

Jan 1st, 2007

Axsun Series D funds MEMS spectrometers

A $15 million Series D financing round led by Electro Scientific Industries (ESI; Portland, OR)-a supplier of production laser systems for microengineering applications-was closed by Axsun Technologies (Billerica, MA) to enhance its microelectromechanical systems (MEMS)-based core “spectral engine” offerings in industrial process spectroscopy, including the pharmaceutical, homeland-security, and optical-communications markets. In 2006 Axsun extended its micro-optical platform, introducing a unique Raman spectrometer engine to identify unknown substances.

Star Instruments sues Meade over optics

Optical systems manufacturer Star Instruments (Newnan, GA) filed a federal lawsuit against Meade Instruments (www.meade.com) citing deceptive claims that Meade’s RCX400 and LX200R line of telescopes use the Ritchey-Chrétien technology. The lawsuit alleges that Meade and the distributors falsely described inexpensive telescopes produced by Meade as having the same advanced design as the Hubble Space Telescope, and seeks an injunction preventing Meade and the distributors from advertising the telescopes as having an advanced Ritchey-Chrétien design.

Star Instruments specializes in Ritchey-Chrétien optical systems-a specialized Cassegrain telescope design with a hyperbolic primary and a hyperbolic secondary mirror that delivers a large, coma-free field of view from edge-to-edge, allowing astrophotographers to capture tack-sharp images over a wider field. Ritchey-Chrétien configurations are most commonly found on high-performance professional telescopes such as NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope.

InPhase technology wins CPIA award

The Colorado Photonics Industry Association (CPIA; Longmont, CO) awarded InPhase Technologies (also in Longmont, CO) The Photonics Innovator of the Year award. Formed as a spinoff from Lucent Technologies in 2000, InPhase has successfully developed the technologies for holographic optical storage, and is now commercializing holographic optical-storage drives and media. In September 2006 InPhase demonstrated the world’s first commercialized holographic storage product. In addition, CPIA gave The Photonics Company of the Year award to Particle Measuring Systems (Boulder, CO).

Europe intensifies support for photonics

Photonics has been given a firm place in the European Union’s 7th Framework Programme (FP7). The European Commission plans to create a new unit dedicated to photonics and to increase funding for the enabling technology by more than 40% ($120 million) for photonics in 2007 and 2008.

Rosalie Zobel, director of DG Information Society and Media of the European Commission, underlined the importance of photonics as a business area and invited Photonics21 (see www.laserfocusworld.com/articles/245125) to support the E.U. and the community to maintain competitiveness. Through the efforts of Photonics21, the topic has been taken up by eight other units within the Directorate-General for Research and incorporated in market areas such as the life sciences and manufacturing.

Barr Associates to provide filters for JWST

Lockheed Martin has selected Barr Associates (Westford, MA) to provide filters for the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) near-infrared camera (NIRCam), a filter-based instrument covering the spectral range of 0.6 to 5.0 microns.

Barr is responsible for the design, manufacture, and testing of the full compliment of 30 filters. The NIRCam is the primary imager used in the JWST and will also be used for a critical wavefront sensing function to ensure the various main mirror segments are precisely aligned.

Also in the news . . .

According to a new technical market research report entitled “Spectroscopy (IAS004C)” from BCC Research (Wellesley, MA), the total U.S. market for spectroscopic instruments will cross $5.2 billion by 2010. . . . Crystal and optical component suppliers Crystech (Qingdao, China) and VLOC (New Port Ritchey, FL; a subsidiary of II-VI) signed an agreement under which VLOC will market, sell, and distribute Crystech products in the U.S. and Canada exclusively. . . . Sterling Precision Optics (Evanston, IL), manufacturer of optical filters, tempered optics, lenses, and optical windows, is approaching its 50th year in the optics industry. . . . Oakley (Foothill Ranch, CA) is expanding its military optics business by acquiring all the assets of Eye Safety Systems (ESS; Sun Valley, ID), supplier of military, law enforcement, and firefighting protective eyewear. . . . Researchers at the 8.2 m Subaru Telescope (Mauna Kea, HI) achieved “first light” with the instrument’s new adaptive-optics system that includes a laser guide star for a 10× resolution improvement. . . . Corning (Corning, NY) announced that its wholly owned subsidiary in the People’s Republic of China hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for a new liquid-crystal-display (LCD) glass substrate finishing facility in Beijing, China.

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