Fiberoptics Industry Report

Nov. 1, 2003
Corning shuts down Intellisense; OFS reorganizes and restructures management team; Agiltron wins $3.5 million ATP grant; MORE...

Corning shuts down Intellisense

After denying rumors for the past year that it might be closed or put on the auction block, MEMS developer Corning Intellisense (Wilmington, MA) has been shut down by its parent company, Corning (Corning, NY). The move was part of Corning's ongoing efforts to streamline operations and improve profitability by divesting most of the optical components companies it purchase during the telecom heyday.

Rumors were swirling last summer that Intellisense had already experienced some cutbacks, but the company quickly responded with assurances that its business was, in fact, quite intact. In addition to a strong customer base for its MEMS design software, the company won a $2 million Advanced Technology Program (ATP) grant last fall to develop embedded digital interface and control circuits for MEMS.

Corning is looking for a buyer for the MEMS expertise that attracted it to Intellisense in the first place. Intellisense, which was acquired by Corning in 2000 for $750 million in Corning stock, was founded in 1991 by Fariborz Maseeh, a scientist from the Masschusetts Institute of Technology who was part of MIT's MEMCAD group, one of the first to create integrated design systems for MEMS.

While the Intellisense shutdown is not expected to be complete until the end of the year, most of the 70 employees in Wilmington have already been let go, with a handful moving into other parts of Corning, primarily in R&D, according to Beth Dann, a Corning spokesperson. Dann noted that Corning is still investing in photonic materials, primarily from an R&D perspective.

OFS reorganizes and restructures management team

Fiberoptic manufacturer OFS (Atlanta, GA) is implementing a corporate reorganization and making changes to its executive management team that are expected to increase operational efficiencies. Kiyoshi Takeuchi, currently president and CEO of Fitel USA, will assume the role of chairman and CEO of OFS in mid-November, replacing current president and CEO Eddie Edwards, who will remain involved in the company as a member of the OFS board of directors.

Additional senior personnel changes include Paul Neuhart, who will assume the new role of president and COO of Fiber, Cable, and Connectivity; Tim Murray, who will assume the role of president of Specialty Photonics; and Hiroyuki Ogiwara, currently CFO of Fitel USA, who will assume the role of CFO for OFS. As a result, several executives will leave OFS: Kenneth Walker, president of Specialty Photonics; Nicolas Khoury, president of Optical Fiber; and Scott Bohrer, vice president and CFO.

Agiltron wins $3.5 million ATP grant

Agiltron (Wilmington, MA) was awarded a $3.5 million grant from the National Institute of Standards and Technology's Advanced Technology Program to develop a new type of optical switch based on optical MEMS technology. Agiltron will be joined in this effort by AC Photonics (Santa Clara, CA).

During the four-year project, the Agiltron/AC Photonics team will develop a new type of high-speed optical switch for use in telecommunications networks. The switch is based on a differentiated microelectromechanical system (MEMS) platform that offers lower loss, higher speed, lower voltage operation, and longer lifetime compared to competing optical switching technologies.

MEMS-based optical switches provide optical switching of large numbers of signals with minimal signal distortion. However, they do have large optical-signal loss because known MEMS approaches can only generate enough force to move small mirrors within the switch. Agiltron and AC Photonics intend to develop a new category of optical switches that use a high-performance electrostrictive film material coupled with a relatively large silicon mirror fabricated on a cantilever arm that efficiently deflects the light beams within the switch.

Also in the news . . .

OmniGuide Communications (Cambridge, MA) has commitments for $450,000 in government R&D grants from the National Institutes of Health and other government agencies to develop its hollow-core photonic bandgap fiber technology for use with Er:YAG and CO2 lasers in minimally invasive therapy, dentistry, and veterinary medicine. . . . Spire (Bedford, MA) has been awarded a $124,500 Small Business Innovation Research grant from the National Eye Institute to develop a new 2.71-µm fiber-laser-based instrument for glaucoma surgery. The flexible fiber-based instrument is expected to have applications in laser trabecular ablation, laser sclerectomy, and other glaucoma procedures.

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