Optics Industry Report

Sept. 1, 2000
Corning ships a one-piece 4.3-m primary mirror blank to observatory; Heptagon Oy and CSEM group merge; APA Optics expands manufacturing capacity; Saint-Gobain will invest $40 million in calcium fluoride optics ...

Corning ships a one-piece 4.3-m primary mirror blank to observatory

Corning Inc. (Corning, NY) has shipped a 4.3-m primary mirror blank produced from its ultralow-expansion (ULE) glass to the Southern Observatory for Astronomical Research (SOAR). The glass manufacturer is one of the few companies in the world that can produce a one-piece primary mirror blank of this size with a coefficient of thermal expansion close to zero. With ULE glass, temperature changes at higher altitudes will have little effect on the shape of the primary mirror, which will make the active optical support system less complex. For example, there will be no need for external mirror heating or cooling. Corning began working with SOAR, a consortium of astronomy groups from Michigan State University (East Lansing, MI), the University of North Carolina (Chapel Hill, NC), Brazil's Laboratório Nacional de Astrofísica, and the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (Tucson, AZ) in 1990. The manufacturing of the mirror, which is destined for a telescope on Cerro Pachón in the Chilean Andes, began in 1998.

Heptagon Oy and CSEM group merge

Heptagon Oy (Helsinki, Finland) and the Replicated Micro-Optical Element Activity of CSEM (Zurich, Switzerland) have merged to form a company that will focus on design and manufacture of diffractive and micro-optics. The new company, which will continue under the name Heptagon, will have its headquarters in Helsinki and a branch office in Zurich. In related news, the Finish venture-capital organization Sitra and Swedish InnovationsKaspital have invested Euro1.8 million ($1.62 million) in the firm.

APA Optics expands manufacturing capacity

Under a shelf registration filed in April of this year, APA Optics Inc. (Minneapolis, MN) has raised more than $35.45 million in gross proceeds through registered institutional placements of a total of 2.628,180 shares of its common stock. The money raised is designated for expansion of manufacturing capabilities, mainly at the firm's Aberdeen, SD, facility, and for product-development and marketing activities.

Saint-Gobain will invest $40 million in calcium fluoride optics

In a move to reinforce its commitment to being a long-term supplier of calcium fluoride (CaF) optics used in semiconductor microlithography systems, Compagnie de Saint-Gobain (Paris, France) is proceeding with an initial investment of $40 million in Bicron Crystals and Detectors, Saint-Gobain Industrial Ceramics Inc. (Newbury, OH). The investment, which is scheduled for completion by third-quarter 2001, will add significant capacity to the Bicron facility in Newbury. In addition, a new manufacturing site for the technology will also be established at Bicron's Washougal, WA, plant.

Japan's domestic optoelectronics output for 2000 could exceed 17%

According to the Optoelectronics Industry and Technology Development Association (Tokyo, Japan), domestic production of the Japanese optoelectronics industry for FY1998 was ¥5.634 trillion ($52.2 billion), with 1999 production expected to exceed ¥6 trillion for the first time. The association predicts the FY2000 tally for both optoelectronics components and equipment to reach ¥7.517 trillion ($69.6 billion), a growth of 17.1% over FY1999. The 2000 production forecast for optoelectronics equipment alone is ¥4.727 trillion ($43.77 billion), a gain of 12.6% over 1999. Optical-disk production should account for 38.5% of that (up 7.7% from 1999), followed by optical I/O at 27.7% (up 5.4%) and optical telecommunications at 18.1% of production (up 30.1%). Laser-processing equipment is expected to capture 6.2% of total production (a gain of 34.8% over 1999), followed by displays at 4.8% of production (up 16.2%), and optical sensors at 2.8% (up 12.5%).

Also in the news . . .

Newport Corp. (Irvine, CA) has received $7 million in orders for high-precision optical products from three major semiconductor capital-equipment companies. . . . Filter- and lens-manufacturer Schneider Optics Inc. (Hauppauge, NY) has purchased Century Precision Optics (North Hollywood, CA), which designs and manufacturers lenses and lens accessories for filmmakers and videographers.

Paula Noaker Powell

For more business news, subscribe to Optoelectronics Report. Contact Jayne Sears-Renfer at [email protected].

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