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Novalux bags $22 million finance and supply deal

Unaxis Optics takes a substantial stake in Californian chip developer Novalux, and agrees a joint development deal for laser-projection displays.

Laser chip developer Novalux has completed a new round of equity financing worth "up to" $21.7 million.

The total includes a substantial investment from the European company Unaxis Optics, while the two companies have also signed a development and licensing agreement under which California-based Novalux will supply the European firm with red, green and blue laser chips.

Unaxis Optics will mass-produce modules based on the lasers and distribute them into the projection display industry for applications including high-end televisions and personal projector displays.

Earlier this year, Novalux, which owns a GaAs wafer fabrication facility in Sunnyvale, CA, also joined forces with display industry giant Seiko-Epson, to which it is also supplying laser chips.

Features provided by projector systems powered with Novalux s extended cavity surface-emitting lasers (NECSELs) are said to include images with brighter, truer colors than those from "conventional" lamp systems, and higher reliability. The new systems are also said to cut waiting times when projectors are started up.

Novalux laser sources can reduce the number of required components and thus costs of the light source and other optical components. This could allow volume production of top-performance optical devices at more competitive prices, Unaxis Optics stated.

As well as large displays and micro projectors such as high-definition TVs, the laser modules could also find applications in cell phones and gaming consoles, mini projectors, and head-up displays that project driver information on to vehicle windscreens.

"The laser technology from Novalux is an ideal addition to our own technologies and products," said Thomas Limberger, CEO of Unaxis. "This development is an innovation that should reshuffle the market for front and rear projection displays and represent the future direction of projections systems."

"The partnership with Novalux makes sense for Unaxis since the technology is complementary to our product portfolio and can be applied across the range of micro display and scanning devices. Our customers will now have access to Novalux laser modules and light engines designed and built by Unaxis," he added.

"Our NECSEL technology is ideal for many current and future projection display applications, " said Jean-Michel Pelaprat, Novalux Chairman and CEO. "The new arrangement will provide consumers with a lower cost, longer lifetime solution than other light sources, along with an unmatched viewing experience. This partnership positions both companies to launch RGB laser lighting into the projection display marketplace."

Matthew Peach is a contributing editor to Optics.org

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