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OIDA: Energy, Industrial Laser Markets Most Promising

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WASHINGTON, Dec. 14, 2006 -- 2006 has been a good year for the optoelectronics industry, with most markets showing double-digit growth, said Michael Lebby, president and CEO of the Optoelectronics Industry Development Association (OIDA) at the organization's annual forum last week.

OIDA is a Washington-based non-profit association that promotes the optoelectronics industry. Its annual forum was held Dec. 6-7 in Washington.

This year’s event focused on two markets that have recently shown national importance and market strength: industrial lasers and energy. The conference also highlighted the reemergence of the communications market now underway and gave attendees a variety of viewpoints into the trends that will influence optoelectronics market growth over the next 10 years.

“2006 has been a good year for optoelectronics in general, with most markets showing double-digit growth. We have a lot of ‘opto-mism’ about the markets this year,” Lebby said. “We’ve seen vibrancy and growth in all segments, including communications, but two of the most promising sectors are industrial and energy.”

Lebby said that critical to the growth of these markets are regulatory and legislative input. In his presentation, Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) addressed the importance of communicating effectively with law makers about issues that will affect the industry. Some relevant issues currently being debated on Capitol Hill include American competitiveness, alternative energy and conservation, security, telecommunications and education. Mark Foulon, acting undersecretary for industry and security at the Department of Commerce, discussed key export, security and regulatory issues that affect much of the optoelectronics market and that need input from industry.

From a product and technology perspective, the industrial sector was represented by Holger Schlueter, vice president of laser development and production at Trumpf; and John Ambroseo, CEO of Coherent. In their talks, they showed that industrial laser source applications now exceed the market for communications and are near parity with storage. The market is characterized by a move to diode-pumped solid-state lasers (either disk or fiber) from more traditional rod and gas lasers. These architectures have offered dramatic improvements in efficiency, flexibility and size, which led to growth of 14 percent in 2005 and are underscored by the initial public offering of IPG Photonics in Boston this week.

The energy sector of optoelectronics was discussed in talks by officials from Philips Lumileds on solid-state lighting (SSL) and Emcore on solar cells. George Craford, chief technology officer (CTO) at Lumileds, pointed out that current generation white-light LEDs will soon exceed the efficiency of fluorescent lights and that new, lower cost production has accelerated the deployment in energy saving applications. Since these devices have lifetimes that span decades, they expect that the lightbulb industry will shrink with wider use, further reducing life-cycle costs.

Emcore CEO Reuben Richards showed that the demand for on-grid and off-grid applications is growing at 28 percent per year and is large enough now to cause dislocations in the silicon market, highlighting the importance of non-silicon and high efficiency devices. SSL and solar technologies combined already make solar-powered lighting an economically feasible choice in many homes today; issues prohibiting adoption center more around industry incentives, regulations, and building codes and habits, he said.

In his presentation, Lebby highlighted information from OIDA’s annual Global Market Survey and Forecast. He said the global optoelectronics market grew 20 percent to $364 billion in 2005 and will be a $1 trillion industry by 2015; LCDs account for over 70 percent of the optical components industry and continue to grow; solar cells and display modules showed the strongest segment growth in 2005 (24 percent and 19 percent, respectively); communications markets experienced 14 percent growth in 2005, with faster growth likely in 2006; and within sources and detectors, image sensors and high-brightness LEDs (HBLEDs) now own 60 percent of the global optoelectronics sources and detectors market, primarily for cellphone and PDA applications.

Developments in communications were highlighted by keynote speaker Rajiv Ramaswami, vice president and general manager of Cisco; Giorgio Anania, CEO of Bookham; Giovanni Barbarossa, CTO of Avanex; and Terry Unter, CEO of Mintera.

Technology evolution was the subject of a panel session featuring CEOs Patrik Evaldsson of Syntune, Jean-Louis Malinge of Kotura, Jeff Ritichier of Xponent and Hal Zarem of Silicon Light Machines. Future technologies were explored at a poster session sponsored by the National Science Foundation. The evolution of the business models of optoelectronics companies was discussed by a panel including Tim Jenks, CEO of NeoPhotonics; Ed Coringrato, CEO of CyOptics; Waguih Ishak, CTO of Avago; Mike Scott, founder of IQE; and Steve Grubb, director at Infinera.

Financial trends were also highlighted in a session including John Dexheimer of First Analysis, Bob Flanagan of Cowen and Co., John Kunschner with Jeffries Broadview, Kevin Slocum with Greenwich Technology Advisors and Jeffrey Cheng, vice president of corporate development with Arasor.

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Dec 2006
The technology of generating and harnessing light and other forms of radiant energy whose quantum unit is the photon. The science includes light emission, transmission, deflection, amplification and detection by optical components and instruments, lasers and other light sources, fiber optics, electro-optical instrumentation, related hardware and electronics, and sophisticated systems. The range of applications of photonics extends from energy generation to detection to communications and...
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