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23 March 2007


QPC tripled revenue in 2006; BrightLase orders boosted to $2m

QPC Lasers Inc of Sylmar, CA, USA, a vertically integrated manufacturer of high-power semiconductor lasers for the defense, homeland security, industrial, and medical markets, has reported fourth-quarter 2006 revenues of $1.3m (up 40% on Q3’s $930,000 and 225% on $400,000 a year previously).

Full-year revenue tripled from $1.07m in 2005 to $3.07m in 2006, due to the launch of new products and the generation of new commercial sales and government contracts through enhanced sales and marketing activities. Net loss was level with 2005, at $18.7m.

QPC is accelerating the pace of its laser product launches. During first-quarter 2007, it has announced:

- Initial shipments of BrightLase Direct-Diode Laser (optimized for rugged specialty military applications). The new module was previewed at February’s Photonics West show in San Jose, CA, USA and is to be launched at the Defense and Security Symposium, 9-13 April in Orlando, FL. The conduction-cooled lasers provide 50W of continuous-wave power output from a 100 micron core fiber at wavelengths of 808-1064nm, with electrical to optical efficiencies in excess of 35%. The modules are also adaptable to medical and industrial applications (from therapeutic and surgical applications to materials processing).

- Collaboration with Northrop Grumman Space Technology Cutting Edge Optronics of St Charles, MO, USA to jointly develop integrated high-power semiconductor laser modules and systems ( debuted at Photonics West), expanding QPC’s product line to include water-cooled laser modules (for high-efficiency pumping of Er:YAG high-energy lasers at eye-safe wavelengths for directed-energy weapons development) as well as fiber-coupled turn-key systems (with high spatial and spectral brightness in the near-infrared and eye-safe regime for industrial, medical, and defense markets).

- Shipment of eye-safe laser engines (conduction-cooled, fiber-coupled modules and high-power water-cooled modules) to two US defense contractors for a US Army project developing directed, high-energy laser weapons at eye-safe wavelengths (to minimize potential unintended effects of scattered laser light from the target or atmosphere). QPC's Internal Grating laser technology achieves high spectral brightness and stability at a wavelength of 1532nm, suitable for efficient pumping of Er:YAG lasers operating at 1640nm. Prior generations of high-energy lasers are based on either chemical laser technology (which are generally inefficient and bulky) or electric solid-state lasers (which operate at eye-hazardous wavelengths).

Chairman and CEO Dr Jeffrey Ungar says that, in 2006, QPC ‘turned the corner’ in transitioning what had been primarily an R&D organization into a manufacturing company (as well as from a private company to a public company). The firm’s capacity for manufacturing existing products and developing new products and technologies is growing, he adds.

“We are seeing increasing adoption of advanced laser technologies in a wide range of medical, industrial and defense industries, and expect demand for high-performance, cost-effective diode lasers to increase,” says vice chairman and co-founder George Lintz.

“Our growing intellectual property portfolio of laser technology currently includes five issued patents and 11 patents pending,” he adds. “To fund operations over the next 12 months and to enable continued growth in our activities, QPC will require additional financing. QPC is in discussions with a number of potential institutional and private investors with a view towards raising $6-10,” Lintz concludes.

* Order for BrightLase modules boosts backlog to $2m

QPC says it has won a large purchase order to deliver BrightLase laser modules to a medical equipment manufacturer in Europe. Since their launch just last November, backlog of purchase orders and contracts for the modules has now risen to more than $2m (approaching 1000 units, about half of which should ship over the next 12 months).

QPC is therefore rapidly ramping in-house manufacturing capacity (doubling BrightLase production throughput since January and expecting to triple it by June). QPC says that it has already invested more than $9m in laser-chip fabrication, component production and assembly equipment since the firm’s inception in the year 2000.

The direct-diode BrightLase module delivers a high-brightness laser beam from a compact, conduction-cooled, rugged source, and addresses the $400m medical laser sector which, up to now, has mostly been limited to traditional gas, diode, and solid-state laser technology. Compared to traditional laser technology, the modules offer benefits including reduced size, lower system costs, and high power (up to 35W) at application-specific wavelengths in the near-infrared and eye-safe range (including 795nm, 808nm, 976nm, 1064nm, 1380nm and 1532nm, with additional wavelengths in development). The modules are also available in a fiber-coupled configuration (with fiber core diameters as narrow as 200 microns) or without a fiber such that the beam is delivered in a collimated output through an exit window of the sealed module. QPC recently introduced an aiming beam accessory for medical applications.

Applications range from dermatology, such as wrinkle reduction, hair removal and acne treatment, to therapy for soft tissue and joint injuries, as well as ophthalmology, dental, and enhanced magnetic resonance imaging of lung and brain tissue.