Imaging and Detector Industry Report

Pranalytica (Santa Monica, CA), a trace-level gas-sensor company, was awarded a $13.

Nov 1st, 2004

Pranalytica wins $13 m DARPA contract

Pranalytica (Santa Monica, CA), a trace-level gas-sensor company, was awarded a $13.2 million contract from the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop laser-based technology and instrumentation for the detection of chemical warfare agents, toxic industrial chemicals, and explosives. The objective of the four-year program, called Laser Photoacoustic Spectroscopy, is to produce a man-portable instrument that maximizes sensitivity for the detection of lethal and harmful gases with acceptably low probability of false indications that may arise from relatively harmless gases present in the environment. Pranalytica will work with several subcontractors, including Newport (Irvine, CA); HRL Laboratories (Malibu, CA); and the Advanced Engineering and Sciences Division of ITT Industries (White Plains, NY).

As part of this project, Pranalytica will focus on incorporating new quantum-cascade lasers into its existing technical platform. The company’s work in ultra-low-level trace-gas detection is built on proprietary technology for tuning and controlling the wavelength of the high-power carbon dioxide lasers; this technology has enabled Pranalytica to successfully commercialize sensors for parts-per-trillion-level ammonia-gas detection in the environmental, semiconductor, and medical-­diagnostic industries.

Kodak, IBM partner on image sensors

Eastman Kodak (Rochester, NY) and IBM (White Plains, NY) have joined forces to develop and manufacture image sensors for use in consumer products such as digital still cameras and camera phones. The companies signed a multiyear agreement that will leverage Kodak’s broad portfolio of image-sensor technology and IBM’s leading-edge complementary-metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) processing expertise to allow Kodak to commercialize a new family of CMOS image-sensor (CIS) devices. IBM will expand its value-added foundry offerings to include the design and high-volume production of image sensors for rapidly growing digital consumer imaging applications. Kodak recently returned to the commercial CMOS business with the purchase of National Semiconductor’s imaging business, which develops and manufactures CMOS image-sensor devices.

A key element of the Kodak/IBM CIS process is Kodak’s unique CIS pixel technology, including its proprietary pinned photodiode and 4T cell architectures. These technologies, licensed to IBM as part of this agreement, permit the manufacture of CIS pixels that approach the size of the smallest CCD pixels offered today, with improved photosensitivity and lower noise. The new process also will leverage IBM manufacturing technologies, such as the 0.18-µm CMOS copper manufacturing process already present at IBM’s semiconductor facility in Burlington, VT, where the image sensors will be produced.

Exfo consolidates photonics and life-sciences group

At least 25 people will be affected by Exfo Electro-Optical Engineering’s (Quebec City, Canada) decision to consolidate operations of its Photonics and Life Sciences Division. In ongoing efforts to improve market focus, ­efficiency, and cost structure, Exfo is transferring the Exfo Burleigh Products Group from Victor, NY, to Toronto. The Victor, NY, operation was acquired in November 2000 when Exfo bought Burleigh Instruments for $40 million in cash and Exfo shares then valued at $235 million. Once fully implemented, the company expects to incur restructuring and other charges of US$2.7 million.

Also in the news . . .

Retica Systems (Waltham, MA) and Sigma Partners closed a $2.5 million Series A financing to fund the final development of a retinal biometric system for use in a variety of homeland security and commercial security applications. Retica was founded in 2001 by David Muller, founder and CEO of Summit Technology, the first company to obtain FDA clearance for laser vision correction. . . . CRLO Displays (Fife, Scotland) has acquired the business of CRL Opto from Scipher and raised $19 million of funding from its owners. CRLO designs silicon-based microdisplays for high-definition rear projection televisions. . . . Nanometrics (Milpitas, CA), a supplier of metrology systems, is collaborating with Timbre Technologies (Santa Clara, CA) to develop scatterometry (optical digital profiling) technology used in semiconductor manufacturing. Optical digital profiling translates diffracted, broadband light into profiles of semiconductor device structures and their underlying films. . . . Jobin Yvon (Edison, NJ) has changed its name to HORIBA Jobin Yvon. HORIBA Jobin Yvon, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of spectroscopic and analytical instruments, joined the HORIBA Group in 1997.

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