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Thorlabs Extends Mid-IR Capabilities with iGuide Purchase

Photonics.com
Jan 2013
NEWTON, N.J., and MONTREAL, Jan. 4, 2013 — Thorlabs announced Thursday that it has added mid-IR fiber capabilities to its portfolio through the acquisition of the iGuide optical fiber products segment of Montreal-based IRphotonics. Specific terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The proprietary iGuide is based on a process that allows infrared glass and optical fiber to be produced with exceptional properties in the 0.30- to 5.5-µm range. iGuide also can transmit light from the ultraviolet to the mid-IR for a wide range of multispectral applications in the industrial, medical, telecom, and defense and aerospace markets.

The iGuide group and its manufacturing equipment will relocate from Canada to Thorlabs’ headquarters in Newton and become part of its Fiber Optics business unit, the company said, adding that the purchase brings additional fiber draw capabilities as well as core competencies in the manufacturing of glass and preforms.

Thorlabs also added mid-IR laser capabilities with the November acquisition of mid-IR semiconductor laser maker Maxion Technologies Inc. (See: Thorlabs Acquires Maxion) from Physical Sciences Inc. Thorlabs said that acquisition will allow the company to manufacture semiconductor lasers with output in the 0.7- to 12-µm wavelength range.

"The purchase of Maxion and [iGuide] has been part of a multiyear effort by Thorlabs to become a vertical manufacturer of a wide variety of products designed to provide solutions for researchers and product developers working in the mid-IR," the company said in a statement. "This underutilized portion of the optical spectrum has the potential to make a significant impact in medical and sensing markets, as the fundamental resonances of many molecules are located in this spectral range. In addition, there are two atmospheric transmission windows (3-5 and 8-10 µm) that allow for remote or standoff detection applications, allowing for wide-area monitoring of chemical compounds.

"By combining the quantum cascade lasers of Maxion Technologies with the mid-IR fiber capabilities of IRphotonics, we are able to build photonic systems utilizing the benefits of both," said Thorlabs President and Founder Alex Cable. "Additionally, having a vertical manufacturing base for mid-IR subsystems combined with a robust research effort, I believe we can make significant contributions to bringing mid-IR technologies to bear on technically challenging problems."

IRphotonics' other product line, iCure, is an in-line portable fiber optic system that uses infrared light to generate heat to deliver faster and stronger cures than traditional bonding methods for assembly applications in electronics, medical devices and optoelectronics. The company announced in June that it was spinning it off as a wholly owned subsidiary, iCure Systems Inc. iCure was a winner of a 2009 Prism Award for photonics innovation in the Photonics Systems category; the awards are co-sponsored by Photonics Media and SPIE and presented during SPIE Photonics West.

For more information, visit: www.thorlabs.com



GLOSSARY
optical fiber
A thin filament of drawn or extruded glass or plastic having a central core and a cladding of lower index material to promote total internal reflection (TIR). It may be used singly to transmit pulsed optical signals (communications fiber) or in bundles to transmit light or images.  
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