Intel acquires Sparkolor's tunable integration technology

20 September 2002 -- Intel is acquiring the planar hybrid integration technology of tunable component and module developer Sparkolor Corp.

20 September 2002 -- At the NFOEC 2002 event in Dallas, Texas, Intel Corp said that, on 4 September, it finalised an agreement to acquire substantially all the assets and intellectual property of tunable optical networking component and module developer Sparkolor Corp.

The deal includes planar hybrid integration (PHI) technology and key personnel, which are being transferred from Sparkolor's facility in Santa Clara, CA to Intel's Photonic Technology Operation in San Jose, CA, USA. Other assets, including sales and marketing staff, are not included.

It is claimed that Sparkolor's PHI technology lowers the cost and increases the functionality of optical components by enabling multiple functions to be combined onto one chip in an automated fashion, allowing optical chips to approach the cost efficiencies of ICs. PHI allows various materials, such as silica, InP and polymers, to be combined onto one silicon chip, so best-of-breed characteristics for each material can be combined into one compact and highly functional chip. Also, silicon-based fabrication techniques mean that yields are high and costs are low.

Intel had already acquired the tunable laser business of New Focus Inc in May. However, although Sparkolor has a thermally tuned laser, its tuning section is made from polymer-enhanced silica-based gratings, which could be used to make tunable filters, reconfigurable optical add-drop multiplexers, or temperature-stabilised glass-based optical components.

"Sparkolor's PHI technology dramatically improves the economics of manufacturing optical components and subsystems. PHI is particularly well-suited to the next generation of dynamic optical components," said Max Straube of Optical Capital Group, a Sparkolor investor. Other Sparkolor investors include New Enterprise Associates and Storm Ventures.

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