Optics Industry Report

Windows that darken automatically will be the product of a new joint venture between automotive- window-maker Donnelly Corp. (Holland, MI) and Schott Corp. (Yonkers, NY). Schott Donnelly LLC Smart Glass Solutions will initially have headquarters in Tucson, AZ. Schott and Donnelly will each own half of the company, which will aim at the automotive and architectural markets. Donelly's Advanced Technology Center (Tucson) has been developing electrochromic windows, which can be dimmed or can darke

New joint venture to make dimming glass

Windows that darken automatically will be the product of a new joint venture between automotive- window-maker Donnelly Corp. (Holland, MI) and Schott Corp. (Yonkers, NY). Schott Donnelly LLC Smart Glass Solutions will initially have headquarters in Tucson, AZ. Schott and Donnelly will each own half of the company, which will aim at the automotive and architectural markets. Donelly's Advanced Technology Center (Tucson) has been developing electrochromic windows, which can be dimmed or can darken automatically to reduce heat and glare, for the past five years, with funding from the US Department of Energy. Schott, a subsidiary of Schott Glass (Mainz, Germany), will help establish a global market for the products.

Photran closes its doors

Photran Corp. (Minneapolis, MN) has terminated all its employees and ceased operations. The company's demise was triggered when its principal creditor, citing a soft market and Photran's existing defaults, announced it would extend no additional credit. One of Photran's primary products was glass coated with indium tin oxide, which provides the transparent, electrically conductive surface needed for liquid-crystal displays (LCDs). It also made coatings for glass used in photocopiers and projection televisions. Photran sold mostly to Asian customers, with a single customer accounting for more than half its sales.

Breault more than doubles its space

Breault Research Organization (BRO; Tucson, AZ) has expanded its headquarters by 57% to more than 13,500 sq ft, an attempt to meet the rapidly growing demand for optical design services and for system prototyping services. Additionally, the optical-software-training courses held at BRO headquarters and international locations cater to more than 150 engineers a year, and BRO expects the class load to increase by half in the year 2000. Many companies that have not traditionally been clients are finding they need optics to improve efficiency and competitiveness, in industries such as automotive illumination, microlithography for semiconductor manufacturing, and display applications.

Spire looks into joint venture, sale, or merger

Spire Corp. (Bedford, MA) has hired a financial adviser to look into strategic options for the company, including a joint venture, merger, or sale of a product line, business, or the entire company. Spire hired OEM Capital (Southport, CT), an investment banking firm that specializes in the electronics, communications, and computer industries. "The variety of growth opportunities available in our three lines of business, coupled with our limited financial resources, has played an important role in our decision to explore all strategic alternatives," Spire president Roger Little said in a prepared statement. Subsidiary Spire Solar makes photovoltaic manufacturing equipment.

Nanovation acquires polymer technolgoy rights

Nanovation Technologies (Miami, FL) has acquired the rights to a polymer material developed by a professor at Northwestern University (Evanston, IL). The company says the material has excellent performance characteristics for very-high-speed electro-optical modulators and complements the microcavity device Nanovation is developing in its laboratory on the university's campus. Tobin Marks, chairman of the university's chemistry department, created and patented the material. Nanovation, which is working on optical circuits that include photonic switches and optical waveguides, expects to introduce its modulators to the market within 18 months.

Also in the news...

Optical Coating Laboratory Inc. (Santa Rosa, CA) has filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission to offer 1.55 million common shares to raise working capital. . . . Call/Recall (San Diego, CA) has been selected by DARPA to develop a high-speed, high-capacity removable storage system for optical media. . . . Roger Joseph Van Overstraeten, president and CEO of microelectronics research center IMEC (Leuven, Belgium), died in late April at 61.

Neil Savage

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