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Thorlabs Enters High-Speed Optoelectronics Market

Newton, NJ - March 25, 2014 - Thorlabs announced today a greenfield initiative to start a new business unit, Thorlabs Ultrafast Optoelectronics (Thorlabs-UFO). The team will focus on addressing the need for high-speed optoelectronic products with bandwidths as high as 100 GHz for deployment in applications outside of the traditional telecommunications market. These new products will range from basic components to instrumentation consistent with Thorlabs’ ever-expanding catalog of Photonic Tools. Dedicated to establishing R&D facilities distributed geographically, Thorlabs made the decision to locate the new venture in the heart of Michigan’s vibrant photonics community in Ann Arbor.

Thorlabs-UFO will look to design, develop, and manufacture leading-edge photonics and optoelectronics products and systems, guided by key insights from customers in the marketplace. The team will be able to leverage the technical expertise that already exists within the organization’s optomechanical, semiconductor, ultrafast laser, and imaging system product development areas. Together, this combined knowledge and feedback loop will contribute to a high-speed product line aimed at meeting the specific needs of the market, expanding Thorlabs’ catalog offering, and supporting R&D initiatives within other Thorlabs’ business units.

“Our initial efforts will be in the area of ultrafast optoelectronic components such as lasers, modulators, and subsystems,” commented Janis Valdmanis, General Manager of the Michigan operation. “Ultimately, our research and development efforts here at Thorlabs Ultrafast Optoelectronics will also serve to complement and advance Thorlabs’ other initiatives in ultrafast and high-power lasers, optical & fiber optic instrumentation, and life science products.”

“There is a long tradition of successful photonics-related research activity going on right here at the University of Michigan and other Michigan-based industrial and educational institutions,” noted Valdmanis. “We hope to promote a strong interaction with that research community and attract strong talent from those channels in the coming years, contributing to Michigan’s overall job growth.”

Michigan is also home to a new state-sponsored Photonics Cluster comprised of 30 companies and educational institutions called Mi-Light ( This cohesive effort to enhance the Photonics industry in Michigan in conjunction with national photonics initiatives provides an ideal backdrop for Thorlabs’ new venture.

About Thorlabs: Thorlabs, a vertically integrated photonics products manufacturer, was founded in 1989 to serve the laser and electro-optics research market. As that market has spawned a multitude of technical innovations, Thorlabs has extended its core competencies in an effort to play an ever increasing role serving the Photonics Industry at the research end, as well as the industrial, life science, medical, and defense segments. The organization’s highly integrated and diverse manufacturing assets include semiconductor fabrication of Fabry-Perot, DFB, and VCSEL lasers, fiber towers for drawing both silica and fluoride glass optical fibers, MBE crystal growth machines, extensive glass and metal fabrication facilities, advanced thin film deposition capabilities, and optomechanical and optoelectronic shops.