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23 April 2008


BeamExpress raises $1.3m in first-round funding

BeamExpress SA of Lausanne, Switzerland has secured first-round funding of $1.3m from early-stage venture capital firm I-Source of France. Proceeds will be used to expand the team and move from prototype to series production of its long-wavelength (1200-1650nm) vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers (VCSELs), which it designs and manufactures in cooperation with EPFL (Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology).

BeamExpress SA was founded by Jean-Claude Charlier and professor Eli Kapon launched as a privately held spin-off from BeamExpress Inc of Sunnyvale, CA, USA when it was sold to NeoPhotonics Inc in September 2006 (retaining the intellectual property of the VCSEL technology). BeamExpress says that its long-wavelength VCSELs have low power consumption for next-generation high-speed computing and optical communication applications.

Because of the high drive currents of existing edge-emitting lasers, heat dissipation is becoming a limitation for the next-generation of high-bandwidth, high-density form-factors designs, argues CEO Charlier, favoring the alternative use of VCSELs due to their extremely low heat characteristics. Up to now, short-wavelength 850nm VCSELs have been adopted widely by optical component manufacturers. However, the market is now changing with the rapid adoption of silicon photonics, which requires light sources emitting in the long-wavelength range (1200-1600nm), adds Charlier.

“The secret of our VCSEL’s high performance lies in our ‘localized wafer fusion’ technology, which makes possible the use of InP- and GaAs-based materials giving a high-power, single-mode laser beam with a narrow line-width”, says chief scientist professor Eli Kapon (who is also director of EPFL’s Laboratory of Physics of Nanostructures).

“The mass adoption of broadband access, combined with the explosion of Web 2.0 applications, video streaming and peer-to-peer traffic, has caused the Internet to grow at an unprecedented rate over the last few years,” comments I-Source partner Nicolas Landrin. “Bottlenecks have appeared in various parts on the networks, and especially within the data centers for server-to-server communications.” Beam Express’ products enable the design of a new generation of optical components that will enable unprecedentedly high levels of integration, he adds. “This will bring a ten-fold reduction in cost and power consumption.”

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