SUGAR LAND, Texas, Jan. 29 -- Engineers at Applied Optoelectronics Inc. have claimed a breakthrough in the development of an inexpensive and portable mid-infrared semiconductor laser. The company said that its newest generation quantum cascade laser has demonstrated continuous-wave (CW) operation to a temperature of 210 K, approximately 35 C higher than the previous record, held by Lucent Technologies. Engineers attributed the breakthrough to improved material quality and careful thermal engineering of the laser structure to reduce the temperature rise of the laser's active region during CW operation. This is perhaps the most important breakthrough in quantum cascade laser technology to emerge in the last few years, said James Baillargeon, vice president for telecommunications technologies at AOI. By demonstrating the potential for CW operation at elevated temperatures through better thermal management, we have shown that further advances in the technology of these advanced lasers are possible. Commercial applications demand CW operation at near room temperature, and these results indicate that this is an achievable goal. nLight Photonics Secures $44 Million in Second Round FundingSEATTLE, Jan. 29 -- nLight Photonics has raised $44 million in its second round of financing. This funding will accelerate the development of the company's pump lasers, which will provide increased transmission capacity to optical networks. In addition, the funding will facilitate the expansion of the company's manufacturing operations in Seattle and Vancouver, Wash.Menlo Ventures and Oak Investment Partners led nLight's second round of funding, along with Mohr, Davidow Ventures, Adams Capital Management, Cedar Grove Investments, and a number of individuals with backgrounds in the optics business. nLight raised $9 million six months ago in a first round led by early-stage investor Mohr, Davidow Ventures. Included in the investors' portfolios are a number of next-generation optical systems providers and infrastructure companies that can benefit from nLight's new technology.