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In Brief: Nakamura, Philips, Fiber-optic Market

Shuji Nakamura scoops one million euros; Philips launches its Blu-ray Disc player, featuring a blue laser of the type that Nakamura helped to develop; and a new report suggests that the market for active optical telecom components is set for a sharp upturn.

Nakamura nets €1 million
A technology foundation in Finland has handed GaN materials legend Shuji Nakamura its second "millennium prize", which comes complete with a cash bonus of €1 million ($1.26 million).

The prize, which is awarded by the foundation in alternate years for technological innovation that "significantly improves the quality of human life", was previously won by internet pioneer Tim Berners-Lee. Nakamura will receive the prize at a ceremony in Helsinki on September 8.

While Nakamura's hand in the development of blue and white LEDs, and blue laser diodes, was undoubtedly significant, the impact of these technologies on human life is largely one confined to the future "“ primarily in the form of future high-efficiency electric lighting and semiconductor-based water purification systems.

"In the course of time, energy-efficient light sources based on Nakamura's innovation will undoubtedly become predominant," said the Millennium Prize Foundation's Pekka Tarjanne.

Solid-state lighting based on HB-LEDs is expected to achieve significant penetration of the wider lighting market by 2010.

Philips launches Blu-ray with fanfare
Consumer electronics giant Philips has finally launched its Blu-ray Disc player.

The player, which also features an "all-in-one" PC writer, includes a trio of laser sources to enable playback of CD, DVD and Blu-ray content.

Leading electronics companies around the globe are steadily rolling out Blu-ray and high-definition DVD players and recorders as consumers in the US, Japan and western Europe increasingly purchase high-definition television sets.

Philips Blu-ray player will retail for $999 in stores.

Predicted surge for optical components
Rapid build-out of fiber-based enterprise and access networks is expected to drive a sharp upturn in the market for active optical telecom components such as lasers, modulators and detectors.

According to analysts at Communications Industry Researchers (CIR), the value of the active components sector will near-quintuple from just under $1 billion today to $4.8 billion in 2011.

"The big surge in growth is due to the rapid penetration of fiber into enterprise and access networks, and the larger bandwidth applications riding over them," said CIR.

Tunable lasers are now one of the key growth engines, with tens of thousands of such devices being shipped annually. By 2011, this niche alone is expected to become worth more than $460 million.

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