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In brief: Toshiba, Lumileds, Princeton and more

Toshiba launches a blue laser writer for desktop PCs; Lumileds becomes fully-owned by Philips; Princeton Lightwave's materials engineering expertise results in a new near-infrared detector; Avanex launches a more manufacturable laser chip; and Sumitomo Electric eyes expansion.

Toshiba s blue laser writer
Japanese consumer electronics company Toshiba will use the 2007 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas to launch its new blue laser drive for desktop PCs.

Toshiba says that the high-definition DVD write drive is the world s first to be dedicated to desktop PC applications. It contains a GaN-based laser with sufficient optical output in the blue-violet to write data to HD DVDs.

The new drive also reads high-definition read-only discs and conventional CDs and DVDs, using a single objective lens to focus blue, red and infrared light from the different laser sources required.

Philips completes Lumileds buy-out
Philips has bought all of the outstanding shares in LED manufacturer Lumileds to become the San Jose subsidiary's sole shareholder.

After the Dutch company acquired the half-share in Lumileds from Agilent Technologies one year ago, 3.5 per cent of the company s share capital was still owned by Lumileds employees and managers.

Philips has replaced the prior stock option program for Lumileds employees with a new incentive program, at a cost of €8 million. The charge will be recorded in Philips forthcoming financial results for the final quarter of 2006.

Princeton s single-photon detector
III-V optoelectronic chip innovator Princeton Lightwave (PLI) claims to have commercialized the first single photon avalanche photodiode (SPAD) designed for operation at 1.06 µm.

The wavelength is unusual, because silicon detectors only operate with good efficiency below 1 µm, and InP SPADs have been developed primarily for optical communications wavelengths at 1.55 µm.

By adopting materials engineering techniques used for the longer wavelengths (see related feature article), PLI has been able to cut out the excess noise usually seen with InP detectors working near to 1 µm.

Applications for the thermoelectrically cooled SPADs include biomedicine, laser-based radar systems for remote sensing, and free-space optical communications.

Avanex eases laser costs
Optoelectronic chip, component and module maker Avanex says that its latest laser chips will cut the cost of fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) deployments.

The Fremont, CA, firm has designed 1310nm Fabry-Perot chips used in triplexer and duplexer components that can be manufactured with automated production processes.

Normally, these laser chips also require active alignment to ensure that their optical power is efficiently coupled into optical fiber. The new chips can be made using much cheaper, easily-scalable passive alignment techniques.

Sumitomo Electric expanding
Japanese substrate supplier Sumitomo Electric (SEI) is expecting to register over ¥23 billion ($194 million) in revenue for 2006 from its compound semiconductor business.

That s according to the Massachusetts-based market research and consulting firm DKN Research, who estimate that half of this figure is a result of GaAs wafer sales.

One of the three leading GaAs material vendors, SEI is now planning to double its manufacturing capacity in 2007 to help meet increasing demand.

Rival GaAs supplier Hitachi Cable is expected to report ¥12 billion in revue for 2006, and a 20 per cent hike this year, added DKN's Dominique Numakara.

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