Optical components

Molex Backs Multiwavelength Modules

Interest in multiwavelength laser technology is growing, judging by news that’s about to emerge from Israeli startup KiloLambda Technologies Inc.

Light Reading has learned that KiloLambda just signed a "mutual R&D and marketing agreement" with connector maker Molex Inc. (Nasdaq: MOLX/MOLXA) for multiwavelength light sources -- a technology that could slash the cost of building DWDM systems by reducing the number of components needed to generate numerous channels (see Startup Invents Laser Alternative).

Under the terms of the agreement, KiloLambda will supply the chips that generate the wavelengths, while Molex will develop chip-to-fiber coupling and fiber assembly for the laser outputs. Molex will distribute and sell the final product.

What's more, the pair have been awarded a grant of $1 million from the Binational Industrial Research and Development (BIRD) Foundation, an organization that exists to promote strategic partnerships between Israeli and American companies. Unlike venture capital investors, BIRD funds projects without taking any equity -- it gets repaid in terms of royalties on actual sales, providing the project actually makes it that far.

"Yes, this is 100 percent true," says Tzachi Ben-Gal, KiloLambda's VP of marketing, adding that the news will likely be announced next week. Molex was not immediately available for comment.

A deal like this is just what a small startup like KiloLambda needs. It allows KiloLambda to focus on its core technology, without needing to invest in the packaging side of things. It also gives the startup access to a broad route to market: As the world's second largest manufacturer of electrical and fiber optic interconnects (according to its Website) Molex has sales channels all over the world.

The backing of a major U.S. manufacturer also suggests that the telecom industry -- which has become highly conservative about adopting new technologies -- sees that multiwavelength lasers have real potential.

KiloLambda's news comes shortly after another startup revealed plans to produce multiwavelength sources. Switzerland's GigaTera AG says it was prompted to develop multiwavelength laser technology as a result of customer feedback (see GigaTera Goes Multiwavelength).

However, it could be a couple of years before the fruits of the KiloLambda/Molex collaboration make it to market. KiloLambda hasn't revealed its roadmap but previously said that it was planning on making its existing venture capital funding last for two to three years -- until its first sale. Another startup developing multiwavelength sources -- Opticalis -- closed down because it felt the time to market was too long, its former CEO Glen Riley told Light Reading (see Agere's Opto Group Reborn).

— Pauline Rigby, Senior Editor, Light Reading
cmryu 12/5/2012 | 12:43:57 AM
re: Molex Backs Multiwavelength Modules Is it same as CWDM XFP technology or different?
Can anyone answer this question?
BlueWater66 12/5/2012 | 12:43:50 AM
re: Molex Backs Multiwavelength Modules Molex has a terrible record gaining market traction in optical modules. They had a similar partnership with Lumineon several years ago that when no where. Too bad. With their connector background they should be able to do something substantial.
pipesoflight 12/5/2012 | 12:42:57 AM
re: Molex Backs Multiwavelength Modules The strategy of Molex I like is that they go after technology as a second source in many cases. It reduces R&D costs for them. They team up with major players and become the second source for products through liscenes agreements and some internal design. Most companies today like that second source enviornment, which can often times help keep costs down through competition. They have done this with success in the connector, cable and fiber business. I don't know if it will work with the optical modules since everybody and their brother is in this game. They are usually based in areas where wages are lower, which can be a good and bad thing (good for manufacturing and bad for hiring the experienced talent to do design).
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