Optics Industry Report

July 1, 2003
CVI finds profitability and a new owner; Optifab 2003 fills a gap in the United States; High-precision optics enable short-wavelength x-ray lasers; MORE...

CVI finds profitability and a new owner

Not only is CVI Laser (Albuquerque, NM) seeing 20% growth in its business by expanding into contract manufacturing and assembly, the 30-year-old manufacturer of laser optics and optomechanical subsystems is under new ownership: Norwest Equity Partners (Minneapolis, MN). Terms of the sale were not disclosed, but CVI will remain in Albuquerque, where the company has 200 employees. As part of the deal, CVI has spun out a separate company, Spectral Products, which is owned by Yu Hahn, the founder of CVI. Norwest bought CVI after Hahn decided he wanted to pursue other business interests. Earlier this year, CVI expanded into contract services and established a new manufacturing facility in China.

In addition to the facility in China, CVI currently has three U.S. offices—in Albuquerque; Storrs, CT; and Livermore, CA—plus manufacturing facilities in the U.K. and Korea. The company now has more than 400 employees and a total of more than 200,000 sq ft dedicated to optics manufacturing, coating, and assembly.

Optifab 2003 fills a gap in the United States

In response to a lack of U.S. trade shows devoted to optical fabrication, the American Precision Optics Manufacturers Association (APOMA; Rochester, NY) and SPIE—The International Society of Optical Engineering (Bellingham, WA) held the first Optifab conference May 19–22 in Rochester, NY. Optifab is devoted entirely to topics related to optical fabrication, including fabrication and test equipment, optical components, materials, systems, software, other peripheral equipment, and fabrication processes. The exhibition will be held every other year, in opposite years from Optatec (Frankfurt, Germany), Europe's major optical fabrication exhibition.

Optifab included an extensive technical program, with the centerpiece being "hot topics" talks given by researchers from both universities and commercial outfits. A group from the Toyohashi University of Technology (Toyohashi, Japan) and the University of Tokyo (Tokyo, Japan) discussed precision grinding of micro-aspherical surfaces, including the grinding of microlens arrays and micro-Fresnel lenses. A team from Jenoptik Laser (Jena, Germany) gave a talk entitled "It's the subtleties that make the difference," which delved into the intricacies of manufacturing aspheric lenses. Other technical sessions were grouped into specific topics, including optical component manufacturing, MRF (magnetorheological figuring) technology and application, thin-film technology, and optical assembly. Total attendance was 1791 with 165 exhibitors.

High-precision optics enable short-wavelength x-ray lasers

Using a series of high-precision optics supplied by Optical Surfaces (Surrey, England), the Japan Atomic Energy Research Institute (JAERI; Kyoto, Japan) has demonstrated the possibility of a compact pumping system for x-ray lasers in the shorter wavelength region. Scientists at JAERI demonstrated gain saturation of nickel-like ion x-ray lasers at 13.9 and 12.0 nm using a compact chirped-pulse amplification Nd:glass laser with an input energy of 14 J. Employing a quasi-traveling-wave pumping system using a special six-step mirror enabled the pumping energy to achieve gain saturation to be reduced to 2.5 J/mm. The result demonstrates the possibility of a compact pumping system for x-ray lasers in the shorter wavelength region. To generate a quasi-traveling-wave, Optical Surfaces produced a complex step mirror consisting of six blocks, each connected to a base plate by optical contact.

Industry establishes MEMS steering group through SEMI

Some 60 companies and organizations from Europe, North America, and the Asia Pacific have moved to create an International MEMS Steering Group (IMSG), under the auspices of Semiconductor Equipment Materials International (SEMI; San Jose, CA). Micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) are microsystems that combine electronic, optical, and moving parts and are often fabricated in silicon using semiconductor manufacturing process technologies and equipment. An inaugural IMSG teleconference was held May 7. Nominations are now being accepted for leadership and executive committee membership. The IMSG has been chartered to help SEMI support the emerging MEMS industry through the dissemination of information and statistics and the promotion of standards development.

Also in the news . . .

Nanosys (Palo Alto, CA) purchased from Yissum Research Development Company (Jerusalem, Israel) a license to use three nanotechnology patents developed by Uri Banin of Hebrew University (Jerusalem). Nanosys will invest up to $1.5 million in developing the patents over the next four years for new stable infrared-emitting nanocrystals used in optical communications, lasers, and light-emitting diodes. Nanosys recently closed a $38 million second round of financing.

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