Laser Industry Report

May 1, 2000
NIF glass vendors achieve continuous-melt milestone; Chip-fabrication technique leaves the laboratory; Polariod laser-diode group becomes Boston Laser

NIF glass vendors achieve continuous-melt milestone

Schott Glass (Duryea, PA) has successfully demonstrated a continuous-melt process to ensure ongoing production of economical, high-optical quality, neodymium-doped phosphate laser glass for the National Ignition Facility (NIF) at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL; Livermore, CA). Hoya Corp. (Fremont, CA), the second of two NIF laser glass vendors, is scheduled to begin a similar process this month. More than 3500 laser glass slabs will be needed for the NIF, and a similar quantity will be needed for the Laser Megajoule, to be constructed later in this decade by the French Commissariat a L'Energie Atomique (CEA; Grenoble, France). Schott had produced 250 slabs by the beginning of April using a continuous-melt process that is 20 times faster than the previous one-slab-at-a-time batch-melting technology. Development costs for continuous-melt technology have been shared equally by LLNL and CEA.

Chip-fabrication technique leaves the laboratory

James Garvey, a professor at the University at Buffalo (NY), has received a $900,000 grant under the US Small Business Innovation Research program to commercialize a laser-ablation technique called laser-assisted molecular-beam deposition. With the help of this Phase II grant, as well as others from the program, Garvey and colleagues have established a new company, AMBP Tech (Assisted Molecular Beam Process Technologies). In addition, the research group has signed a manufacturing and marketing partnership agreement with Neocera (Beltsville, MD), a manufacturer of pulsed-laser-deposition equipment, which gives the research team instant access to its market.

Polariod laser-diode group becomes Boston Laser

The laser-diode manufacturing and development group of Polaroid Corp. (Cambridge, MA) is in the process of becoming a separate company—Boston Laser Inc. (BLI; Norwood, MA). In a transaction that is 90% complete, the group has been bought by Power Science (Nes Ziona, Israel), which makes power supplies for devices including lasers, arc lamps, and flashlamps. Incorporated in Delaware, BLI remains at Polaroid's Norwood plant, where the laser-diode group once operated. In related news, the technical polarizer and display film business of Polaroid has been sold to the optical-systems division of 3M (St. Paul, MN). The business will continue to operate out of the current site in Norwood, and a significant majority of the 85 employees will be offered positions with 3M.

Premier Laser files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy

Following months of legal and financial struggles, Premier Laser Systems (Irvine, CA) has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. According to the company, this move was necessitated by a lack of liquidity, the overhang of prior obligations, and the need to seek protection from certain creditors. Premier had already placed all but nine of its 80 employees on temporary unpaid leave and hired Crossroads LLC (Newport Beach, CA), a financial consultant, to identify and assess strategic and financial alternatives. Michael Quinn, president and CEO, noted, "We believe the company has three principal assets: its experienced work force, intellectual property, and products."

Also in the news . . .

Industry veteran Michael Perry has been appointed director of lasers and optics science and technology at General Atomics (San Diego, CA), the site of the largest US industrial fusion energy program. . . .

Electro Scientific Industries (Portland, OR) has filed action against Dynamic Details (Anaheim, CA) and GSI Lumonics (Kanata, Ontario, Canada), claiming the two are violating its US patent for a multitool positioning system. . . . Uniroyal Technology Corp. (Sarasota, FL) will use proceeds from the sale of its high-performance plastics segment to accelerate its expansion of production capacity for high-brightness LEDs and to explore strategic acquisitions of companies intended to complement its optoelectronics business. . . . DPSS Lasers (Santa Clara, CA) has announced an active licensing program for a recently granted patent for a high-efficiency, high-repetition-rate, intracavity-tripled diode-pumped solid-state laser.

Hassaun Jones-Bey

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

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