15 September 2003 Rochester Hills, MI Lightwave-- Energy Conversion Devices (ECD), a pioneer in renewable energy solutions and advanced information technologies, announced today that it has been awarded a multi-million dollar, three-year contract by the National Institute of Standards and Technology's Advanced Technology Program (NIST ATP) to support the development of new optical switching devices based on Ovonic phase-change materials.
The new devices will be able to switch both broadband signals and separate individual signals from DWDM signal bundles. They will have no moving parts and will provide significantly higher switching speeds, in an all-optical device format, in products that can be made at significantly lower cost than current systems.
The development will build upon the technical capability and commercial success of Ovonic phase-change technology, which is currently used in rewritable CD and DVD optical disks, and is also being developed for use in non-volatile semiconductor memory devices through ECD Ovonics' Ovonyx joint venture. This is the first time the materials will be used for active optical routing devices.
Stanford R. Ovshinsky, the inventor of phase-change electrical and optical memories and president and chief executive officer of ECD Ovonics, stated that the alliance with NIST under the ATP program further strengthens the U.S. technological leadership with expectation for continued product leadership in the optical communications field.
He said, "The simplicity of operation and device design of our Ovonic phase-change alloys, which are utilized in the commercially successful rewritable optical disks, provide the basis for the development of new optical switching devices."
The devices can be applied in major switching nodes and also in distributed locations and could expand the delivery of high-content broadband information streams to commercial and residential end users. The technical performance targets of the program would allow all-optical switching to keep pace with telecom protocols, which are expected to migrate toward Internet formats. The relatively simple design of the devices will enable much lower costs than in currently available systems.
ECD Ovonics will apply its expertise in Ovonic phase-change materials to develop new alloys having optimized attributes for this application. New fiber-optic compatible devices will be designed incorporating these alloys and means for switching them.
ATP provides cost-shared funding to industry- led teams which can include non-profits and universities to help advance particularly challenging, high-risk research and development projects that have the potential to spark important, broad-based economic or social benefits for the United States. The program supports projects that industry cannot fully fund on its own because of significant technical risks.
ATP awards are made on the basis of rigorous, competitive peer review of the scientific and technical merit of each proposal. The program accelerates enabling technology research, but does not support product development work.
ECD Ovonics is a leader in the synthesis of new materials and the development of advanced production technology and innovative products. It has invented, pioneered, and developed enabling technologies in the fields of energy and information leading to new products and production processes based on amorphous, disordered, and related materials. ECD Ovonics' proprietary advanced information technologies include Ovonic phase-change electrical memory, Ovonic phase-change optical memory (widely used in rewritable CD and DVD storage media) and the Ovonic Threshold Switch. The company's portfolio of alternative energy solutions include thin-film amorphous solar cells, modules, panels and systems for generating solar electric power; NiMH batteries; hydride storage materials capable of storing hydrogen in the solid state for use as a feedstock for fuel cells or internal combustion engines or as an enhancement or replacement for any type of hydrocarbon fuel; and fuel cells. ECD Ovonics designs and builds manufacturing machinery that incorporates its proprietary production processes, maintains ongoing research and development programs to continually improve its products and develops new applications for its technologies. ECD Ovonics holds the basic patents in its fields.