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Is Lumenon's Share Price Set to Soar?

Light Reading
News Analysis
Light Reading
2/22/2000

Investors in Lumenon Innovative Lightwave Technology Inc. http://lumenon.com -- a company aiming to be "the Intel of optical integrated circuits" -- are hoping to see its share price shoot skyward in the next few weeks. They say breakthroughs are imminent that could lead to Lumenon being the next optical component vendor to see its market cap soar to many billions of dollars.

On the marketing front, Lumenon is planning to demonstrate rapid progress toward developing a low-cost way of manufacturing optical integrated circuits at the Optical Fiber Communication (OFC)conference http://www.osa.org/mtg_conf/OFC/ in early March.

Specifically, it will show some DWDM (dense wave division multiplexing) chips made with its "Phasic Hybrid Sol-Gel Glass" technology. In this process, silicon substrate is coated with a polymer and then circuitry is imprinted on it by placing it under a mask and blasting it with ultraviolet light.

The DWDM chips that Lumenon will be showing will enable equipment vendors to pack a lot of wavelengths into a single fiber, because they support a spacing between wavelengths of 50 Gigahertz (Ghz), according to Reginald Ross, the company's vice president of corporate development.

Although that sort of wavelength spacing is state of the art for DWDM, Lumenon is demonstrating the chips at OFC for another reason --to underscore how quickly manufacturing facilities can be built when using its technology. The on-year-old company is spending about $20 million building a plant that is expected to make 500 optical devices a day when it goes into production next year. In comparison, semiconductor foundries have much higher capacity, but they take two or three years to build and require an investment of $1-2 billion, according to Ross. Moreover, semiconductor foundries need thousands of skilled workers, while Lumenon's factory has 250, the majority of whom are semi-skilled.

Ross says Lumenon's production process also results in very short development cycles. "It's a matter of days between getting a new design and having the silicon product in our hands," he says.

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