Dow Corning Corp. of Midland, Mich., has launched a photonics group that is expected to draw upon the company's experience in silicon-based electronics. Announced in early October, the Photonics Solutions business already offers a limited range of products, including optical coupling materials, optical encapsulants, elastomers and an optical fiber coating. However, the company is positioning its new division primarily as a service organization: It plans to offer custom product development, materials design, electronics testing and supply chain management services to companies looking to outsource those functions.The new group consists of only 30 employees, but director Babette Pettersen said that it expects to grow its business gradually, seeking opportunities in markets such as high-speed bandwidth and connectivity, optical components and LED hardware. Moreover, she said, it will maintain a close connection with its Dow Corning parent, sharing production facilities in Barry, Wales, UK, and headquarters in Midland. Smaller research and sales offices will be scattered in Belgium, France, England and Japan.The fledgling division already has signed a service and supply agreement with Aprilis Inc., a Maynard, Mass.-based holographic data storage firm. Under the arrangement, Dow Corning will provide Aprilis with materials employed in building holographic media for its removable optical storage products.