News | January 10, 2000

Coherent Buys MicroLase Optical

By: Kristin Lewotsky

In a shift from minority shareholder to full owner, Coherent Technologies, Inc. (Santa Clara, CA) has signed an agreement to acquire the 75% outstanding interest of Scottish solid state laser manufacturer Microlase Optical Systems Ltd. (Glasgow, Scotland) in a cash transaction. Further financial details were not disclosed. Coherent had previously been a distributor for Microlase, as well as minority shareholder. The company will be renamed Coherent Scotland Ltd., and will be folded into the Coherent Laser Group under the leadership of John Ambroseo. Cofounders Graham Malcolm and Gareth Maker will remain with the company in leadership roles; cofounder Alistair Ferguson will act as board member and consultant.

The deal brings Coherent a new expertise in stabilized cavities and compact ultrafast sources, according to Coherent Laser Group vice president Paul Crosby. "We've been impressed by the quality and performance of their devices," he says, noting that the new property brings capabilities in actively stabilized titanium-doped sapphire (Ti:sapphire) ring lasers and actively stabilized resonance doublers. "To have a CW solid state source with high coherence length and stability is essentially a new capability," he adds.

At a time when a number of laser manufacturers are edging away from traditional scientific lasers to focus on the lucrative telecom field, the acquisition underscores Coherent's commitment to the scientific market. "It's a self-sustaining model to reasonable returns," says Crosby. "It gives a window on new technology for new instrumentation and applications."

Apart from the name change, Crosby expects little to change with Microlase. Operations will continue at the Glasgow facility. "One of the attractions is that there's a very good infrastructure, and the local government are very supportive."

Microlase manufacturers of a range of advanced solid-state lasers, including stable single-frequency sources in the deep ultraviolet for next-generation semiconductor test and information storage.

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