NLight Photonics Joins Pump Laser Race (Fiber Optics News)
Optical amplifiers and the pump lasers that drive them are a crucial technology to support the continued capacity expansion of DWDM systems. nLight Photonics, a recent start-up based in Seattle, has just completed its second round of financing, providing $44 million to accelerate the development of its innovative pump laser products. The funds will also facilitate the expansion of the company s manufacturing operations in Seattle and Vancouver, WA. Predictably, precise details of the company s novel technology were not revealed. "We ve developed a new way to make pump lasers, but we re also using a lot of standard approaches," says nLight President and CEO Scott Keeney, who adds that the company will have the capability to fabricate GaAs- and InP-based chips. To support next generation optical transport systems, higher power EDFAs and fundamentally new Raman amplifiers will both be required, and in turn these will require advancements in pump lasers. nLight s technology is directed at achieving a "breakthrough in affordable bandwidth" by reducing cost and increasing functionality and integration levels. According to RHK, the pump laser market was the fastest growing segment in the optical component industry last year, growing at 170%, and is expected to continue growing at over 40% per year and to exceed $4 billion by 2004. nLight s second round was led by Menlo Ventures and Oak Investment Partners. The company raised $9 million six months ago in a first round led by early-stage investor Mohr, Davidow Ventures. "nLight s high-performance pump modules address a unique opportunity to enable new optical amplifiers that will reduce system costs and increase data speeds to 40Gb/s," says Douglas Carlisle of Menlo Ventures. "What makes nLight so compelling is the team s execution in building high performance products that are also designed to be manufacturable," adds Bill Ericson of Mohr, Davidow Ventures.