sealPurdue Research Park News

June 2000

Fiber optic start-up speeds up Internet

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Using technology developed at Purdue University, a high-tech venture is manufacturing a new kind of high-performance fiber optic detector to help move data more quickly and economically over the Internet.

OptoLynx Inc., a privately held semiconductor company based in the Purdue Research Park, is using patented technology to produce fiber optical light detectors designed for data stream speed and with capabilities four to 10 times the capacity of conventional detectors. The company's initial product is an 850 nanometer glass optical fiber detector that picks up and relays incoming fiber optic information at 1.25 gigabits and 2.5 gigabits (billion bits per second). That is 50,000 times faster than an average home computer modem at 56.6 kilobits (thousand bits per second) and 10 to 25 times faster than a Fast Ethernet connection at 100 megabits (million bits per second).

The size of a fiber optic detector is important to the speed at which it can detect light. The only way to make existing detectors faster is to reduce their size, but that isn't an option because of the thick diameter of the optical fiber system they must connect with. To remove this barrier, researchers at Purdue developed a detector that is designed to be fast, responsive to light, and available in larger, usable components.

"This technology makes it easier for the fiber optic module manufacturer to put the various components together since it reduces the need for precise alignment of the fiber into its connector," said OptoLynx Chief Executive Officer R. David Monahan. "Our larger detector also eliminates the manufacturer's need for light-focusing lenses and dramatically reduces alignment costs."

OptoLynx's detector material is produced using advanced molecular beam epitaxy and by using an innovative way to convert light into electricity. "While incredibly fast, our detectors also will detect more light and thereby more accurately transmit information," said the technology's inventor, Michael Melloch, a Purdue professor of electrical and computer engineering and OptoLynx's chief technology officer. "We believe we've overcome the market perception that the existing technology suffers from a trade-off between speed and responsivity."

Purdue has licensed the detector technology to OptoLynx under an exclusive commercial arrangement. OptoLynx is one of more than 35 high-tech businesses in the Purdue Research Park's incubator system. That system seeks to increase the odds of success for new ventures by providing a helping hand early in their development.

CONTACTS: R. David Monahan, (765) 775-4556;; Michael Melloch, (765) 775-4556;

Spectraline Inc. shines radiant light on quality control

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – A high-tech company in the Purdue University Research Park is taking industry into the far end of the spectrum for the purpose of on-line quality monitoring.

Spectraline Inc. has developed the ES 100 Mid-Infrared Imaging Spectrometer, an instrument that uses infrared light to monitor quickly and easily the quality of products in a wide variety of industries, including the petrochemical, dairy and beverage industries.

The ES 100 scans materials by using light from the infrared region of the electromagnetic spectrum, light the human eye cannot see. That region is divided into near-, mid- and far-infrared.

The consistency of a liquid product, such as gasoline or milk, usually is tested for quality when technicians take random samples from the production line to the laboratory and analyze them using bench top instruments. The ES 100 is the first spectrometer operating in the mid-infrared region that is designed specifically to constantly monitor the product as it flows through the manufacturing process.

"Our technology reduces unnecessary waste," said Rony Joseph, Spectraline's vice president of product development. "By continuously monitoring the liquid flow with our spectrometer, operators can immediately revise the process the moment something fails to meet specifications rather than waiting until an entire batch has been ruined."

Other spectrometers that work in the mid-infrared region have been developed, but the ES 100 is the fastest. While available instruments can complete a scan in one second, the ES 100 can take 390 complete scans in the same amount of time, enabling it to capture rapidly changing phenomena. A high-speed scan also enables large numbers of samples to be collected, which then can be averaged together to reduce "noise" or other conditions that might interfere with readings.

The new instrument also offers advantages because it has no moving optical components and it does not require time-consuming calibrations – features that make it more durable for on-line applications, Joseph said.

"The ES 100 won't take the user six months to a year to calibrate before use and won't need to be re-calibrated repeatedly," Joseph said. "Our instrument will be shipped factory-calibrated with a customized database for the particular product to be monitored. The user won't need to perform any calibrations and the instrument can be deployed straight out of the box."

The ES 100 can be used in three modes: emission mode, to study turbulent flames, monitor gas turbine combustors and utility furnaces; absorption mode, to monitor multiple constituents in flowing liquids; and reflectance mode, to monitor solids and powders. These methods can be used to measure fat in milk, sulfur in gasoline, and glucose in blood; to detect the presence of poisonous gases; to monitor a gas turbine or an engine to find out how lean it is running; or to monitor the spoilage of fruits and bacteria in meats and other foods.

Spectraline licensed the technology for the ES 100 from En'Urga Inc., which was founded in 1994 by Yudaya Sivathanu, a research scientist in Purdue's School of Mechanical Engineering. En'Urga formed Spectraline in 1999 to develop the instrument further for commercial applications.

Spectraline has its headquarters in one of the Purdue Research Park's small-business incubators where more than 35 companies have access to professional business assistance. The park's incubator concept provides high-tech venture companies with shared office services, flexible leases and attractive rental rates.

CONTACT: Rony Joseph, (888) 884-8236;; Yudaya Sivathanu, (765) 497-3269;

Compiled by Susan Gaidos, (765) 494-2081;

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

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