In a move reminiscent of large companies in other industries, from semiconductor to automotive manufacturing, Coherent Inc. of Santa Clara, Calif., has launched an external technical advisory board to complement its internal technology council. The goal of both boards, according to John Ambroseo, president and CEO, is similar -- to form a conduit for strategic assessment and management of scientific information.From an internal standpoint, a technology council makes sense for any global company. As Ambroseo noted, Coherent scientists often conduct related research in several divisions. An open line of communication is necessary to help them make the most of each other's strengths and avoid "reinventing the wheel" in their research efforts.The council also provides a tool to better assess and handle intellectual property gained through acquisitions. This type of growth often requires that a company devise ways not only to leverage similar product lines, but also to drive consistency in manufacturing facilities.The goal of the external technical advisory board will be to track global scientific developments and to help assess potential impact, both disruptive and complementary to the firm's current product base. To accomplish this extremely difficult task, Coherent has enticed the following researchers to the inaugural board:Erich Ippen, professor of physics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. A principal investigator in the Optics and Quantum Electronics Group, Ippen has focused his research on ultrashort-pulse lasers, short-cavity fiber lasers, photonic bandgap resonators and semiconductor quantum dots. Detlef Hommel, a professor with the Institute of Solid-State Physics at the University of Bremen in Germany. An expert in semiconductor materials research, Hommel led a team that earlier this year produced a pulsed GaN-based laser diode emitting in the blue-violet spectral range in collaboration with Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland. David Hanna, professor and deputy director of the Optoelectronics Research Centre at Southampton University in the UK. In addition to fiber and waveguide lasers, Hanna's research encompasses several other areas of nonlinear optics and laser physics. Martin Fejer, professor of applied physics and head of the Fejer Research Group at Stanford University in California. His research strengths include nonlinear optical materials and devices, guided-wave optics, and microstructured ferroelectrics and semiconductors.The first meeting of the technical advisory board is scheduled for early 2003.