Printer Friendly


    HERNDON, Va., Nov. 4 /PRNewswire/ -- The investment of Virginia's Center for Innovative Technology (CIT) in fiber optics research "is reaping exceptional dividends for the Commonwealth," according to former Virginia Gov. Linwood Holton, president of the CIT.
    Cited by Holton as successes are the inventions by the faculty and students at Virginia Tech's Fiber and Electro-Optics Research Center (FEORC), which have been licensed by the CIT to Virginia companies, as well as FEORC's role in working directly with southwest Virginia companies.
    Holton also notes that this research effort has attracted new companies to Virginia, and the formation of spin-off companies from FEORC.
    All this "means that significant numbers of people will be employed in southwest Virginia," Holton said.  And because of the successes, he said, the CIT has given $220,000 to FEORC for renewed annual funding.
    FEORC is one of 10 CIT-sponsored Technology Development Centers (TDCs) in Virginia that foster development of technologies critical to Virginia industry.  It was established at Virginia Tech in 1986 to pursue basic and applied research in lightwave technology, and to transfer and implement new technological developments to industry.
    Fiber optic cables relay communications and computer data via light pulses that travel through fine, hair-thin glass strands. These strands, unlike copper coaxial wires, have almost unlimited capacity.
    Optical fibers also can be used as sensors to measure, for example, temperatures, pressure, strain and chemical composition.
    "Fiber optics is one of the fastest growing technical fields in the nation," said Richard O. Claus, director of FEORC.  "The related fields of optical switching and optical computing are predicted to be major growth industries over the next decade and beyond."
    The CIT, in cooperation with Virginia Tech Intellectual Properties Inc., last week signed a fiber optics licensing agreement with Litton Poly-Scientific in Blacksburg, Va., that "will have significant economic development implications," Holton said.
    The license will enable Litton to manufacture fiber optic products with technology developed at FEORC.  The CIT also recently signed additional licensing agreements with F & S Inc. (Fiber and Sensor Technologies) and FIMOD Corp. (Fiber and Micro-Optic Devices), two Blacksburg start-up companies that are FEORC spin-offs.  Another fiber optic agreement has been signed with Applied Engineering Inc. in Richmond, Va.
    Holton noted the CIT's continuing effort to expand the fiber optics industry in the Roanoke, Va., area.  He said the CIT-sponsored work at FEORC is an example of how Virginia identifies creative opportunities and pursues new initiatives to stimulate economic growth in the state.
    FEORC's work, said the former Virginia governor, "is a successful effort to leverage the faculty, student, laboratory, and intellectual property assets of Virginia Tech while also helping develop an expanding sector of the state's economy."
    Litton Poly-Scientific was founded in 1953 to develop and manufacture precision components for inertial navigation systems, according to L. Allen Bowman, president of the Poly-Scientific division.  Litton became the world's largest manufacturer of rotary electro-mechanical transmission devices known as slip ring assemblies.
    With the advent of fiber optic technology, the company became the world's primary manufacturer of fiber optic rotary joints (FORJs), slip ring-like devices that provide the same rotational freedom for optical systems that the conventional slip rings provided for electrical systems.
    The FORJ became the bridge that led the company into the broad range of optical and electro-optical products, including couplers, wave division multiplexers, sensors and hybridized analog and digital transceivers.
    The CIT licensing agreement with F & S Inc. is for the manufacture of sapphire fiber optic sensors.  Developed at FEORC, and patented with CIT funding, these sensors are capable of measuring strain, temperature, and chemical parameters on structures and equipment at temperatures up to 2000 degrees Centigrade.
    F & S was formed this year by a group of former FEORC graduates headed by Kent Murphy.  The new firm manufactures specialized fiber optic couplers, optical fiber sensor systems, and a number of other custom-made, application-specific sensors and devices.
    According to Murphy, F & S will utilize the CIT agreement to manufacture a fiber optic sensor that uses a sapphire, which is second only to the diamond in hardness and can withstand extremely high temperatures that exceed the strain point of silica glass fiber. One application of a sapphire fiber optic sensor is in the monitoring of rocket and aircraft engines.
    The CIT agreement with FIMOD is for the manufacture of Optical Time Domain Reflectometry (OTDR) sensors.  The OTDR sensor, also developed at FEORC and patented with CIT funding, tests stress on large structures, including buildings, bridges, and dams.  This sensor, similar to ones successfully tested by FIMOD on aircraft, will be initially marketed to construction companies in Europe.
    FIMOD is an entrepreneurial company headed by Bernd Zimmerman, a former graduate student who worked under Claus at Virginia Tech. While a graduate student, Zimmerman obtained numerous fiber optic patents, including one for a segmented OTDR strain sensor that was successfully tested on an F-15 airplane fatigue test assembly at Wright Patterson AFB in Ohio.
    The Applied Engineering license relates to fiber optic technology developed by FEORC that utilizes a gap sensor for temperature measurement.  Edwin L. Houchens and J. Todd Furbee, the two principals in the Richmond-based firm, sponsored the FEORC research with the CIT to develop the sensor as their proprietary product.
    Presently a marketing firm that sells process control devices, Applied Engineering will become a manufacturer as a result of the CIT licensing agreement.
    "This licensing activity by the CIT is an important step in the continued commercialization of fiber optics research and patents, which has been funded through FEORC by the CIT," said Holton.  The impact of the CIT research on the Virginia economy is incalculable, according to Holton.  "Our research at universities creates an environment that attracts technology companies to Virginia, enhances our state's existing industrial base, and furthers additional growth in the future."
    Virginia Tech Intellectual Properties Inc. (VTIP) is a non-profit corporation affiliated with Virginia Tech.  Under a cooperative agreement, the CIT and VTIP work together to optimize the process of patenting and licensing the portfolio of Virginia Tech-generated technologies.
    The CIT is a private, non-profit corporation created by the Virginia General Assembly in 1984 to increase and enhance the state's technological competitiveness.
    -0-                   11/4/91
    /CONTACT:  Michael P. Gleason of the Virginia Center for Innovative Technology, 703-689-3013/ CO:  Virginia Center for Innovative Technology ST:  Virginia IN:  CPR SU: MH -- DC023 -- 0843 11/04/91 15:44 EST
COPYRIGHT 1991 PR Newswire Association LLC
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Nov 4, 1991

Related Articles
NeuMedia to Build Multi-Million Dollar High-Speed Information Network Headquarters in West Virginia.
Bell Atlantic Invests Over $160 Million in Its West Virginia Network in 1999; Company Expands WEST VIRGINIA 2001 Network.
Fiber Optic Company To Release New Products.
Terabeam to Provide Service in Denver Next.
U.S. Senator John Warner Announces Funding for Department of Defense Program; $2 Million Program Awarded to Prime Research for Photonic Sensors For...
Allen Announces DOE Contract With Virginia Company.
Marshall and West Virginia Universities Build Endowment Fund With $500,000 Grant from Verizon West Virginia.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2018 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters