Optics Industry Report

Aug. 1, 2003
NetOptix diamond-turning business going strong; Grant to fund development of diagnostic device; NanoOpto signs pact with Enplas for nano-optics; MORE...

NetOptix diamond-turning business going strong

While much of the optoelectronics industry continues to search for new avenues of profitability, the Corning NetOptix (Keene, NH) diamond-turning division isn't struggling at all. In fact, although Corning is slowly but surely dissolving its photonics business, having sold much of this business to Avanex in May and announced intentions to divest most of the rest of it before year's end, the company has no intention of letting the diamond-turning group go—it was one of the only profitable parts of Corning's photonics business last year, according to Karl Martinson, director of sales and marketing.

Instead, Corning is integrating the diamond-turning business—which reported 40% growth last year and expects to continue to grow rapidly, according to Martinson—into its specialty-materials division, which includes Corning Tropel and Corning Mirrors. NetOptix diamond turning currently employs about 75 people and will remain in Keene, where the company was founded in 1987 as OFC Diamond Turning, part of the original Optical Filter Corporation.

"NetOptix diamond turning became part of the photonics group by default when Corning acquired the NetOptix filter business in 2000 to gain DWDM filter manufacturing capacity," he said. "But we have become a pretty substantial revenue generator for the company, and it has never been a consideration for Corning to sell the diamond-turning group. It was just a matter of time before we went over to the specialty-materials group, where we have much more synergy." The Keene facility will now be known simply as Corning Diamond Turning.

NetOptix is already collaborating with other members of the specialty-materials group to develop new business. The company currently designs and manufactures custom optical components and subsystems to a number of commercial markets, including defense/aerospace (which accounts for 65% to 70% of its business), semiconductor, medical instrumentation, analytical instrumentation, and telecom. NetOptix also manufactures optical masters for optical injection molding and microstructure arrays for back-lighting displays used in cell phones and other handheld devices.

Grant to fund development of diagnostic device

Opticology (New York, NY) has been awarded a Phase II Small Business Technology Transfer grant in collaboration with the Aborn Eye Research Laboratory (New York, NY) from the National Institutes of Health's National Eye Institute. The two will continue research funded in Phase I, toward the development of a visual-field device to accurately depict centrally located pathological areas of nonvision on the retina.

The alliance has developed a prototype ophthalmic instrument that uses a combination of software and optical hardware to address the shortcomings of commercially available perimeters, which fail to produce accurate results in patients with centrally located retinal defects such as age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy due to their inability to fixate.

NanoOpto signs pact with Enplas for nano-optics

NanoOpto (Somerset, NJ), which is applying proprietary nanofabrication technology to the rapid design and high-volume manufacture of nano-optic devices for optical systems and networks, has entered into a manufacturing and licensing agreement with Enplas Corporation (Kawaguchi City, Japan). The agreement covers the development and manufacture of nano-optic devices for a broad range of applications using NanoOpto's recent inventions in nanofabrication and design.

NanoOpto is creating novel classes of optical components by manipulating light with nano-scale structures and has developed manufacturing methods for a range of markets, including optical data transfer, telecommunications, sensors, and displays. Enplas produces a broad range of optical products, including lenses and lens modules for image sensors, optical pick-ups, communications devices, and projection displays.

The agreement between NanoOpto and Enplas allows Enplas to integrate NanoOpto's technology into their products rapidly. In addition, NanoOpto will integrate a portion of their manufacturing technology in Enplas' facilities.

Also in the news . . .

GSI Lumonics (Billerica, MA) acquired the principal assets of the Encoder division of Dynamics Research (DRC; Wilmington, MA) for $3.3 million in cash . . . Alpine Research Optics (ARO; Boulder, CO) has begun construction on a new 35,000-sq-ft building in Boulder. The facility's production area will include provisions for up to 16,000 sq ft of cleanroom space for substrate fabrication, coating, and optomechanical assembly.

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