Fiberoptics Industry Report

Scottish firm succumbs to market forces; Intel refocuses photonics business; EC earmarks $50 million for photonics; MORE...

Oct 1st, 2003

Scottish firm succumbs to market forces

Just two years ago, the future seemed very bright for Terahertz Photonics (Livingston, Scotland), which was spun out from Heriot-Watt University in 1998 to develop optical waveguide devices and materials. After attracting £3 million (US$4.7 million) in its first round of financing in late 2000, the company secured another £6 million (US$9.4 million) in 2001. The company was developing planar lightwave circuits based on its intellectual property in the area of Sol-Gel glass. But like many of its competitors, Terahertz Photonics has been hard hit by the telecom downturn. In August the company was forced to close its doors, letting its staff of 22 go.

"I regret to say that Terahertz Photonics has entered into voluntary liquidation," said Frank Tooley, founder and CTO. "The severe downturn in the telecom and datacom market has affected our prospective customers considerably. With the ongoing uncertainties as to exactly when the market is going to return and the delay in merger and acquisition discussions, our existing investors are not allowing further drawdown of funds. Thus, it is not feasible for us to continue to trade, and liquidators are being appointed."

Intel refocuses photonics business

Once considered a prime beneficiary of the telecom downturn, Intel (San Jose, CA) is refocusing its photonics strategy in direct response to the shift toward metro/access and enterprise applications in optical communications. This shift includes shelving several long-haul projects, reassigning employees, and reducing manufacturing activities at the passive components plant in San Jose.

"A series of acquisitions and internal development activities have combined to become the Optical Components group, which was originally oriented toward long haul," said William Giles, public relations manager for the communications and wireless business group at Intel. "But long haul has been the hardest hit of the optical segment, so we have overhauled our business and are looking at how to apply our passive-optics expertise in the metro/access and enterprise segments."

EC earmarks $50 million for photonics

The European Commission (EC) has earmarked _45 million (US$49.4 million) for photonics-related research projects selected in the second phase of its Sixth Framework Programme (FP6). The deadline for submitting FP6 project proposals is Oct. 15. The money is the result of a new strategic objective on optical, optoelectronic, and photonic functional components from the EC's Information Society Technologies directorate.

The EC said that the investment is intended to support forward-thinking optics projects for telecom, information technology, health care, life sciences, the environment, and security. Particular emphasis is being placed on three areas: advanced materials and photonic structures and their integration with microelectronics; advanced devices, integrated photonic circuits and sensors for the telecom, medical, and environmental sectors; and compact solid-state light sources with increased brightness and tunability.

Industry veteran steps down

One of the hardest hit components providers in the industry, JDS Uniphase (San Jose, CA), has experienced yet another casualty. Effective Sept. 1, CEO and cochairman Jozef Straus is no longer at the helm of the mega-company he helped to create. Straus has retired from the chief executive position but will remain on JDSU's board of directors. Straus, who has often been praised as a visionary in the field of fiber-based telecommunications but had come under fire for the JDSU's struggles in the wake of the telecom downturn, is being succeeded by Kevin Kennedy, a member of the board of directors since October 2001. Syrus Madavi, director, president, and COO of JDSU, has opted to leave the company; his position will not be filled, according to JDSU.

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Also in the news . . .

Insensys (Hampshire, England), a provider of optical-fiber sensing solutions, acquired Indigo Photonics (Birmingham, England), a specialist in optical-fiber sensor systems and optical components based on fiber Bragg grating technology. . . . Koncent Communication (Fuzhou Fujian, China), a fiberoptic component manufacturer, has been awarded two US patents: one for a two-stage optical isolator with simplified assembly process and improved performance and the other for packaging methodology for DWDM and OADM applications. . . . Srico (Columbus, OH) has been awarded a $349,000 contract from the U.S. Air Force to develop a wideband, high-dynamic-range electro-optic modulator for analog radio-frequency photonic applications such as fiberoptic links used in phased array radar and satellite communications.

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