FEB. 26–GLASGOW, Scotland– Optoelectronic chip maker Intense Photonics Ltd. is hiring and expanding facilities at its UK fab to handle demand from emerging markets.
The focus on the telecommunications sector has broadened, with printing and defense markets now featuring heavily in the company’s multi-million dollar order book.
To meet demand, the company has grown headcount from 50 in late 2003 to 65 today and expects the trend to continue throughout 2004, with most additions in engineering and production technician roles. It has also added office space with a new mezzanine floor and extended cleanroom facilities for wafer fabrication, test, and packaging by around 25 percent.
“Optical integrated circuits are a platform for progress for many industry sectors, not just telecoms,” reports Intense CEO David Lockwood, “and our broader focus is opening up significant new markets for our core technology.”
Intense serves its markets with application-specific variants of its semiconductor laser technology and through custom device design and processing. Behind the company’s commercial success is a quantum well intermixing (QWI) process for fabricating optical chips. The proprietary process allows multiple optical functions to be fabricated in a single processing stage for reliable high-yield production. Intense demonstrated the technology in its start-up phase with example designs of multi-function laser arrays for telecommunication systems, and the technology has now drawn the attention of OEMs in other areas, including remote sensing equipment for defense and for applications in printing.
The telecommunications industry nevertheless remains a focus for Intense; the company expects the current upturn in this market sector–and the pronounced interest in tunable optics–to stimulate demand for another of its multi-function optical IC concepts: the broadband electro-absorption modulator (EAM).
EAMs today are typically fixed-wavelength indium phosphide (InP) devices or more versatile but much bulkier devices based on lithium niobate material. Intense’s QWI process is able to monolithically integrate multiple InP modulators on a single die, as well as a semiconductor optical amplifier–providing an extremely small device that will operate over the complete C-band with zero insertion loss. The architecture is particularly relevant for the shorter-haul WDM transmission markets, which require a more dynamic approach to service provisioning. Intense claims its prototype chip design complements emerging tunable laser technologies, allowing OEMs to build an all-solid-state solution that is very compact and suited to volume manufacture.