By Mark Telford
After acquisition as an empty warehouse in February 2001, Kamelian's new Euro14.5m, 20,000ft2 fab near Oxford, UK, has been opened just a year later by UK science and innovation minister Lord Sainsbury.
The plant makes indium phosphide-based semiconductor optical amplifiers (SOAs), from MOCVD epiwafer growth, chip fabrication and test, through to device/module packaging (after acquiring an assembly line last Autumn from JDS Uniphase's closed pump laser plant in Plymouth, UK).
Kamelian is combining active SOA components with the fixed-wavelength routing capabilities of passive components for dynamic functions such as switching, amplification, wavelength conversion and optical signal regeneration.
The first products are discrete single-channel optical pre-amplifiers and power boosters. Kamelian has started customer sampling and is gearing up for full production, with high volumes "in about 6 months". CEO Paul May claims it will be the first qualified SOA supplier. Current staffing is 47, but it aims for 100 in 18 months.
Kamelian's SOAs are also capable of directly variable gain, so future products include hybrid multi-wavelength optical linear amplifiers.
The products have two key objectives: simpler, smaller and lower-cost amplification; and hybrid, multi-chip integration for more complex, economic sub-system functions such as adding/dropping wavelength channels and other wavelength modification.
Kamelian's focus is the design and manufacture of the active SOA chip so, to develop hybrids, it needs a relationship for the manufacture of passives with either: a foundry supplier or a non-InP-manufacturing partner.
May says Kamelian initially planned to develop hybrids themselves. However, a partnership will help to accelerate development.
In the meantime - with wavelength converters still two years away - there is a "huge opportunity for discretes".