Optics Industry Report

The National Science Foundation has granted $20 million over five years to establish a Center for Adaptive Optics at the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC; Santa Cruz, CA). The center, which includes 28 partners from academia, industry, and governmental research organizations, will coordinate research for astronomy and vision science. The center is expected to begin operation in November under the direction of Jerry Nelson, professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UCSC. Nelson designe

Neil Savage

Adaptive-optics center will work on astronomy, vision

The National Science Foundation has granted $20 million over five years to establish a Center for Adaptive Optics at the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC; Santa Cruz, CA). The center, which includes 28 partners from academia, industry, and governmental research organizations, will coordinate research for astronomy and vision science. The center is expected to begin operation in November under the direction of Jerry Nelson, professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UCSC. Nelson designed the twin telescopes at the Keck Observatory (Mauna Kea, HI) and is an expert on the technology of large telescopes, optics, and instrumentation. Partners include several schools in the University of California system, the University of Rochester (Rochester, NY), Lucent Technologies (Murray Hill, NJ), and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (Livermore, CA), among others.

Company turns ten, hopes to grow more

Ocean Optics (Dunedin, FL), founded by Mike Morris with a Small Business Innovation Research grant from the US Department of Energy, celebrated its tenth anniversary in August. The maker of miniature fiberoptic spectrometers and related accessories has nearly 50 employees and $10 million in annual sales. Chief operating officer Scott Faris said Ocean Optics is exploring a number of avenues in product development, licensing, and acquiring other companies. "We're committed to expanding the company so it's a good solid candidate for an initial public offering," he said, adding that Ocean Optics also hopes to get the cost of an OEM platform down from around $2000 to $200.

Veeco to purchase OptiMag

Veeco Instruments (Plainview, NY) has signed a letter of intent to acquire OptiMag (San Diego, CA), subject to approval by the companies' boards of directors. OptiMag, a development-stage company founded in 1998, is a supplier of automated optical-defect-inspection and process-control equipment for the data-storage thin-film magnetic-head industry. Veeco president and CEO Edward H. Braun said the acquisition adds to Veeco's line of metrology products, including atomic force microscopes, optical interferometers, and stylus profilers, for data-storage customers. OptiMag makes an automated slider defect-inspection station, using a digital camera for high-resolution imaging. Veeco has manufacturing facilities in New York, California, and Arizona.

Laser optics sales help boost Dynasil profits

Dynasil Corporation of America (West Berlin, NJ), a manufacturer of synthetic fused silica for the semiconductor, laser, space, and optical-components industries, has reported a gross profit increase for the three-month period ended June 30, 1999, of 63% and 109% over the second and first quarters, respectively. Attributed primarily to increasing sales in semiconductors and laser optics, along with minimizing production costs, the $218,402 gross profit in the third quarter of 1999 was actually down from $298,884 for the same period in 1998 and corresponded to a 25% reduction in revenues from more than $1 million in third-quarter 1998 to just better than $750,000 in third-quarter 1999.

Optics program aims to create more workers

A new optics-fab training program at Yuba Community College (Marysville, CA) is underway, offering a one-year certificate and two-year AS degree in precision-optics fabrication. Fifteen to 20 students were expected in the first class. The program is backed by $25,000 each from Coherent (Santa Clara, CA) and Spectra-Physics Lasers (Mountain View, CA) and coordinated by the Lasers and Electro-Optics Manufacturers' Association (Pacifica, CA). Several companies contributed equipment to the program, which its backers hope will ease the shortage of skilled optics technicians.

Also in the news . . .

ASM Lithography (Veldhoven, The Netherlands) is forming a center in Tempe, AZ, to study optical-lithography components. . . . Continued mergers and acquisitions, such as the potential merger with Elop Electro-Optics (Rehovot, Israel), fueled the steadily climbing financial results of Elbit Systems (Haifa, Israel) for its second quarter, ended June 30, 1999, according to a company report.

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