Optics Industry Report

Jan. 1, 2001
Edmund Optics to acquire Plummer Precision Optics; VDC outlines the difference between MST and MEMS; JPL awards spectrometer contract to PLX ...

Edmund Optics to acquire Plummer Precision Optics
Optical-component manufacturer and supplier Edmund Optics Inc. (Barrington, NJ) has signed an agreement to acquire the assets of Plummer Precision Optics Inc. (Pennsburg, PA) for an undisclosed amount. Plummer focuses on custom manufacturing of precision optical components, optomechanical assemblies, and advanced coatings for a variety of industrial and defense applications. It will be operated as a wholly owned division of Edmund Optics under the name Plummer Precision Manufacturing Division. According to Edmund Optics president John Stack, the new division will complement its Tucson Design Center. The new flexible-coating capabilities will also boost the firm's potential market share as a supplier of off-the-shelf and custom optical components.

VDC outlines the difference between MST and MEMS
Although some people may use the terms microstructures or microsystems technology (both abbreviated as MST) and microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) interchangeably, the consulting firm Venture Development Corp. (VDC; Natick, MA) believes there is a clear descriptive difference. J. Eric Gulliksen, VDC MST/MEMS project manager, says a micromachined system must include both electrical and mechanical components, including at least one movable or deformable part. Gulliksen and colleagues believe that MEMS may be better defined as a subset of MST. In line with this definition, VDC estimates that global shipments of MST devices, which tallied some $6 billion in 1999, could reach $14 billion to $23 billion by 2004. On the other hand, 1999 shipments of traditional MEMS devices were only about $2 billion. By 2004, shipments in this subcategory could reach $6 billion to $9 billion. For more on the MEMS market, see the special report The big world of little MEMS in this issue (p. 122).

JPL awards spectrometer contract to PLX
The Jet Propulsion Laboratory (Pasadena, CA) has chosen PLX Inc. (Deer Park, NY) to build the principal optical-interferometer mirror assemblies for NASA's Tropospheric Emission Spectrometer (TES), a high-resolution Fourier transform infrared-imaging device designed to measure the state of the Earth's troposphere. The device, which is being built by JPL, is scheduled for launch into polar orbit aboard NASA's Earth Science Enterprise EOS Aura spacecraft in December 2002. The PLX-designed instruments chosen for TES include back-to-back hollow retroreflector assemblies, hollow roof-mirror assemblies, and various folding mirrors, all made of beryllium. These instruments have been designed to operate without distortion at cryogenic temperatures down to -100°C.

Coherent acquires Crystal Associates
Coherent Inc. (Santa Clara, CA) has acquired Crystal Associates Inc. (East Hanover, NJ) in a cash transaction. The acquisition, which will be part of Coherent's Photonic Group, manufactures exotic nonlinear crystals used in a variety of optoelectronic applications. It will reportedly accelerate the firm's deliveries into several key product sectors, including lasers for fiber Bragg manufacturing and for advanced packaging and interconnect markets.

CRESTech spins off an optoelectronic R&D firm
The Centre for Research in Earth and Space Technology (CRESTech; Toronto, Ont., Canada) has launched Spectral Applied Research Inc., which will specialize in optical-instrument design, development, and calibration. Previously known as CRESTech's Instrument Services Laboratory, Spectral is now an independent company owned by its seven founding partners, although the Centre will retain a 10% stake in the firm. The new company is headquartered in Concord, Ont., Canada.

Also in the news . . .
EXFO Electro-Optical Engineering Inc. (Vanier, Que., Canada) has signed an agreement to acquire Burleigh Instruments (Fishers, NY), which supplies dense wave-division-multiplexing wavelength- measurement instruments and precision positioning equipment.... Leica Geosystems AG (Heerbrugg, Switzerland) plans to acquire electro-optical device manufacturer Cyra Technologies Inc. (Oakland, CA).

Paula Noaker Powell

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