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High-power laser maker QPC goes public

Quintessence Photonics Corporation becomes a publicly-traded company via a "reverse merger" transaction with a now-defunct event planning firm.

Quintessence Photonics Corporation (QPC), a Californian developer of advanced semiconductor lasers, has become a publicly-traded company listed on the "over-the-counter bulletin board" exchange in the US.

The Sylmar-based company, which has a semiconductor wafer facility and employs around 30 people, will now have access to greater working capital as it looks to expand its operations, which are said to be scalable to 20 million devices per year.

QPC's lasers emit through the surface of the wafer, thanks to a 45-degree mirror that is etched into the AlGaAs/GaAs epitaxial structure (see related story). This approach means that two-dimensional arrays of laser diodes can be manufactured without the need to cleave the wafer into a series of bars.

The company says that it can aggregate hundreds of high-power lasers onto a single semiconductor chip in this way, enabling volume production, inexpensive assembly and simpler cooling.

Having launched its first high-power lasers in 2004, QPC recently won a multi-year production contract with the Israeli Ministry of Defense and is also delivering lasers to the US Army. Its third generation of diodes is now in development, with prototypes targeted at the industrial welding market set for a launch next year.

QPC now says that it has also designed the world's only on-chip wavelength converter. Developing this technology and the third-generation products will rely on the company gaining more funds.

The transition to a publicly-traded company should help QPC to bring in more cash through capital markets, according to Mark Bernhard of Capital Group Communications, the investment company that oversaw the switch.

Bernhard explained that QPC was actually acquired by a now-defunct corporate event planning company called Planning Force, which was based on Spokane, WA, and had nothing to do with semiconductor lasers.

Julie Morin, the CEO and sole employee of Planning Force, received $250,000 in cash through the deal and immediately resigned, leaving QPC co-founder and CEO Jeffrey Ungar at the helm of the new publicly-traded firm.

According to Bernhard, this kind of transaction provides a very low-cost way to take a private company onto a public exchange and is ideal for relatively small companies such as QPC that could not afford a full-blown IPO. He added that QPC would aim for a NASDAQ listing around the end of this year.

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