Optics Industry Report

Telescope officials sign design agreement for South African telescope; Veeco to pay Zygo in patent suit, sells leak-detection business; Firefly Technologies acquires thin-film component maker; and more.

Mar 1st, 2000

Telescope officials sign design agreement for South African telescope

Officials of the Hobby-Eberly Telescope (HET) have signed an agreement to help in the design and construction of the South African Large Telescope (SALT) to be built at the South African Astronomical Observatory (Sutherland, South Africa). Construction of the SALT started in November, and observations are scheduled to begin in 2003. The 9-m SALT will be based on the design of the HET, which is the third-largest optical telescope in the world and was built at a substantial savings because of its design. McDonald Observatory (Ft. Davis, TX), home of the HET, will get 10% of SALT observing time.

Veeco to pay Zygo in patent suit, sells leak-detection business

A federal court has decreased the damages awarded to Zygo Corp. (Middlefield, CT) in a patent-infringement lawsuit that the company won against veeco Instruments (Plainview, NY). The 1988 suit was filed against Wyko Corp., a veeco subsidiary. The Court of Appeals ruled in 1996 that products redesigned by veeco in 1990 did not infringe on the Zygo patent. The US District Court of Arizona in January reduced damages to $600,000 plus interest, for a total of approximately $1 million. In other company news, veeco has sold its helium-leak-detection business to vacuum Instruments Corp. (Ronkonkoma, NY) for an undisclosed sum.

Firefly Technologies acquires thin-film component maker

Firefly Technologies (Holliston, MA) has bought Specialty Thinfilm Services, a privately held maker of custom components for optoelectronic and wireless communications. The acquisition will allow Firefly to fabricate many elements for optical packaging. Firefly, which was founded in 1997 and has 40 employees, makes micro-optics and metrology and alignment equipment for communications, data storage, optical computing, and consumer optics applications.

Photovoltaics important to USA, roadmap says

The USA is the world leader in research, technology, and manufacturing of photovoltaics (Pv) for producing solar power, but it faces strong competition from Europe and Japan, according to a group of industry leaders. The group, organized by the National Center for Photovoltaics, part of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (Golden, CO), has published the Pv Industry Roadmap, which outlines goals and strategies for the American Pv industry. The roadmap calls for 25% annual growth over the next 20 years. Its four main goals are to maintain American technological leadership, achieve competitiveness with other energy technologies, maintain a sustained market, and make the industry profitable and attractive to investors.

Carl Zeiss signs deal on thin-film coatings

Carl Zeiss Inc. North America (Thornwood, NY) has formed a strategic alliance with Nanofilm Ltd. (valley view, OH). Terms of the agreement were not disclosed. Under the deal, Zeiss will act as a development partner in some Nanofilm products, using a Nanofilm precision coating in designing optical lenses. The coating is a thin polymeric film that provides plastic lenses with the performance qualities of glass. At first, the coated lenses will be available only in the consumer-eyewear market through Carl Zeiss Optical (Chester, vA), but eventually the technology is expected to be used in many of the company's business units, which include optics for semiconductor manufacturing, microscopy and imaging systems, astronomy, medical uses, and cameras.

Also in the news . . .

Jeffrey R. Luken, executive vice president of Cleveland Crystals (Cleveland, OH), has been named president of the company. . . . Optics 1 (Westlake village, CA) has opened a satellite engineering office in Tucson, AZ. . . . Digital Optics Corp. (Charlotte, NC) is the 139th fastest-growing technology company in the United States, according to accounting firm Deloitte & Touche.

Neil Savage

For more business news, subscribe to Optoelectronics Report. Contact Jayne Sears-Renfer at jaynesr@pennwell.com.

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