Germany boosts photonics production


By Mark Telford

FiberCore Jena AG last month opened a new 120,000ft2 optical fibre and preform manufacturing plant in Jena, Germany in the presence of Dr Bernhard Vogel, Minister-President of the state of Thuringia in eastern Germany, and US Ambassador Daniel R Coats.

The new plant doubles FiberCore's annual multi-mode fibre manufacturing capacity to more than 500,000km in 2002. The expansion, the first phase of a Euro50m investment programme, follows revenue growth of 47% to Euro62m (USD54m) in 2001. Fibercore Jena is a subsidiary of FiberCore Inc (Charlton MA, USA).

FiberCore Inc was founded in 1993 and acquired the Jena plant (formerly the state-run Jena Glass Works) from Seiko in 1994. Staffing in Jena has since risen from 20 to 150, but more than 100 new jobs will be created by the end of Phase 2 in 2003.

FiberCore Jena's managing director Lothar Brehm says that, while the long-haul fibre market is over-supplied (hence the single-mode focused US market falling in 2001), FiberCore's business growth has been sustained through it focusing on multi-mode fibre for the build-out of metropolitan area networks.

FiberCore Inc's original founder and CEO Dr Mohd Aslami says that 10-20% of company capacity is being converted from single-mode fibre to multi-mode. However, it is also focusing on emerging single-mode markets such as China. Aslami predicts a return to shortages of single-mode fibre in 2003.

Further to making its own quartz, preform-making machinery and preforms, FiberCore plans to introduce its MCVD-like Plasma Outside Vapour Deposition process, developed with FiberCore Glas GmbH, which will also enable manufacture of the raw materials (as an alternative to its main glass supplier Heraeus).

• Afghan-born Aslami also says that FiberCore's fibre will be used in a project to rebuild the telecoms infrastucture in Afghanistan. The project will also involve Lucent and possibly Siemens.

For the first few years of the reconstruction, cell-phone networks will be installed in the main cities. Later, these will be moved into less populated areas and replaced by fibre networks. Afghanistan's Prime Minister Hamid Karzai, together with the Minister of Information, met with Aslami the weekend after the opening to discuss the project during a state visit to Germany.

• FiberCore's previous plant development, in 2000, was the single-mode Xtal FiberCore Brasil SA plant in Campinas, Brazil.

ULM Photonics, spun off in 2000 from Ulm University, has opened a new plant in Ulm, Germany. The plant will produce flip-chip-ready oxide-confined VCSEL arrays and 10Gbit/s VCSELs by the molecular beam epitaxy process.

ULM is also increasing its distribution through optical interconnect company, Schott Optovance, its lead investor and exclusive North American distributor (Southbridge, MA, USA), which has installed product management, sales and customer service.

In Europe, ULM Photonics is handling its own distribution.

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