Marconi plc announced it will form an optical components company that will combine activities at Marconi Caswell Technology in Northampton and Marconi Applied Technologies in Chelmsford. Dr. David Parker will head the new company, whose first products are expected to include tunable lasers, optical modulators, and EDFAs.
The existing Caswell operation includes design and development capabilities in active optical components using indium phosphide (InP) materials, as well as integration of optical functions using gallium arsenide (GaAs). Applied Technologies has an emerging capability in optical amplifier development and manufacturing, and developed expertise in the design and development of silicon (Si) based components. As part of the plan for the company, manufacturing capacity will be rapidly expanded at a new, purpose-built facility to meet the forecast demand of a wide range of customers. Marconi plans to hire more than 200 new engineers for the company.
In addition to an initial focus on high-power, widely tunable lasers, 10- to 40-Gbit/sec optical modulators, and EDFAs, there will also be strong emphasis on R&D programs to provide fully integrated solutions combining active and passive functions for subsystem applications, according to Marconi.
Several upgrades are already underway at the two sites. New cleanroom facilities have recently been installed at Caswell for expansion of the GaAs and InP fabrication facility and the installation of new epitaxial growth reactors for the processing of active semiconductor components. At Chelmsford, refurbishment of development and manufacturing facilities has recently been completed and a new volume manufacturing line for optical amplifiers is currently being commissioned.