Intense Photonics secures £7.75M funding for new optics technology

June 27, 2001
June 27, 2001--Intense Photonics has secured approximately US$11 million of equity financing to commercialize its fabrication technology for photonic integrated circuits.

Intense Photonics has secured £7.75 million (approx. US$11 million) of equity financing to commercialize its fabrication technology for photonic integrated circuits (PICs). The funding comes from Europe's venture capital company 3i, and ACT Capital Partners.

This optoelectronics technology addresses both the short and long term needs of fiber communications systems designers. A unique monolithic IC fabrication process allows the company to build and deliver integrated solutions, supporting current demands for lower costs and higher performance, as well as the emerging trends towards more efficient and compact modules - using techniques such as hybrid assembly or single-chip solutions.

The company's technology is based on a proprietary quantum well intermixing (QWI) fabrication process for III-V semiconductors, which has already been tried on a wide variety of device designs including lasers, amplifiers, filters and switches. This proven technology gives the new company a very fast track to market; it has already announced its first PIC, which exploits QWI's integration capability to create a high-yield chip for one of today's volume DWDM markets.

The market for optical components used in DWDM systems is forecast to be $4.5 billion in 2001, and to grow to $13.6 billion by 2004, according to telecom market research firm RHK, Inc. John Lively, RHK's Director of Optical Components research, believes there are two key trends underlying this market growth: the migration from passive to active devices, and the replacement of discrete single-function components with monolithic multi-function components. Both of these aspects are fundamental to Intense Photonics' work, and the company believes it can capture 20% of its target component sectors within four years.

Intense Photonics' proprietary QWI technology allows the properties of a semiconductor material to be modified, typically allowing its energy bandgap to be controlled - making it opaque or transparent to light - such that multiple optical communications functions can be integrated on a monolithic chip. The result is a long-life platform for developing solutions to the transceiver, switching and routing subsystems for DWDM (dense wavelength division multiplexing) backbones, and all-optical networks, in a manner, which can be fabricated and packaged with ease.

Intense Photonics will demonstrate a prototype photonic integrated circuit (PIC) building block - fabricated at the company's Glasgow laboratories -- at the ECOC exhibition in September 2001.

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