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Philips Photonics to boost VCSEL production in Germany

Laser-diode facility in Ulm will double capacity to meet sharp rise in demand

Philips Photonics, a wholly owned business of Royal Philips, has announced that it is doubling capacity at its laser-diode facility in Ulm to provide the key components for some of the latest developments in data communication, consumer sensing and industrial thermal processing.

VCSEL diodes are key components in a growing number of consumer and industrial applications, including: sensing of 3D objects in autonomous vehicles; PC 'mice'; industrial sensors and control functions; driver assist systems; ultra-fast data transmission in data centers and servers; and providing distance and gesture recognition in mobile phones.

"Over the past few years, we have invested steadily in research, product development and efficient manufacturing processes. Today, our products are widely used in datacentres, smartphones and a number of industrial applications. The sharp rise in demand for VCSELs is a key factor in our capacity expansion at Ulm, and will enable us to respond to the needs of these rapidly growing markets," said Joseph Pankert, general manager, Philips Photonics.

Semiconductor lasers have been developed and manufactured at the Philips Photonics facility in Ulm since 2000. The company has pioneered many innovations such as VCSEL arrays, now widely used for time-of-flight and 3d depth imaging. Since its establishment, the facility has grown significantly, with staff numbers increasing from 50 in 2012 to 200 in 2016. 

In 2014, the company made significant step to highly automated manufacturing, within the framework of the 'VIDAP' project, jointly sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the EU.

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