IPG Hides Its Light Under a Bushel

IPG Photonics Corp. originated in Russia, which might explain a thing or two about the way it runs its business. It makes very powerful, low-cost amplifiers and keeps quiet about them.

Mum's the word, but IPG's amps are in widespread use in equipment made by heavyweight vendors like Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU), Marconi Corp. (London: MNI), and Siemens AG (Frankfurt: SIE).

“They’re well known within their own circles,” says Lynne Hutchison, a former RHK analyst and now VP of photonic networks research and development for Jedai Broadband Networks, a startup equipment vendor that’s still in stealth mode. “Their products have been well received.”

IPG’s amplifiers can boost light power by as much as 20 watts –- vastly more than the 10 to 100 milliwatts that most other amplifiers can achieve, according to Dennis Gapontsev, a product line manager for the firm. The extra power is particularly important in long-haul backbones and in wireless optical applications.

The power comes from using multimode diodes instead of singlemode diodes, according to Gapontsev. Multimode diodes can generate more power with the same level of reliability, he says. What’s more, IPG has got a special coupling process that allows it to combine an unlimited number of diodes together.

IPG maintains that its amplifiers also beat the competition on price. That’s because they use fewer parts, and much packaging and qualifying is done in house, says Gapontsev.

-- Marguerite Reardon, senior editor, Light Reading, http://www.lightreading.com

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