Uniphase Acquires Grating Producer
Michael D. Wheeler
SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Continuing its aggressive pursuit of the ever-burgeoning telecommunications market, Uniphase Corp. has acquired 49 percent of Indx, a small Australian producer of fiber Bragg gratings, with options to buy the remaining 51 percent.
Based in Sydney, Australia, Indx has a broad base of technology and licenses associated with fiber Bragg gratings -- narrowband reflection filters permanently written into the core of single-mode optical fibers that enable wavelength precision. The gratings combine and route multiple wavelengths of light along a single optical fiber in wavelength division multiplexing (WDM) systems. In addition to narrowband filters, Indx is developing next-generation gratings-based dispersion-compensation modules for WDM communications.
Formed in 1995, Indx was a subsidiary of Australian Photonics Pty. Ltd., the technology licensing and marketing arm of the Australian Photonics Cooperative Research Centre.
Uniphase Chairman Kevin Kalkhoven said the acquisition made sense in light of Uniphase's strategy to position itself for growth in the telecommunications sector. "Bragg gratings in wavelength [division multiplexing] fits well with our product portfolio," he said. "And it's technology we're familiar with."
Kalkhoven said Uniphase considered purchasing other companies that produce fiber Bragg gratings, some much closer to Uniphase's headquarters here. However, geography was not a principal consideration, and the company decided on Indx because it had "done the best job of putting the product to manufacturing," he said.
He also pointed to Indx's director, Simon Poole, as a major asset of the acquisition. Poole co-invented the erbium-doped fiber optic amplifier.
The Indx acquisition marks Uniphase's latest effort to position itself in the telecom sector. In 1995 Uniphase purchased United Technologies of Bloomfield, Conn., giving the company access to proprietary lithium-niobate optical modulators and 16 patents related to converting electrical signals into optical beams for transmission. Then in 1996, Uniphase bought up GCA Fibreoptics Ltd. of Witney, UK, and Fiberoptic Alignment Solutions Inc. of Chicago for $8 million in stocks. It also inked a deal to become the exclusive supplier of lithium-niobate optical modulator transmitters to Ciena, a $1.8 billion telecommunications company.
In January, Uniphase sold off its Ultrapointe subsidiary to Tencor Instruments. Tencor acquired the licensing rights to Ultrapointe's advanced confocal laser microscope technology and automatic defect classification software.
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