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Interview with J.J. Pan by WDM Solutions

From the June 2001 edition of WDM SOLUTIONS
Integration makes waves for the future
A DISCUSSION WITH J.J. PAN OF LIGHTWAVES 2020, BY CONARD HOLTON
[talking technoloy]

J. J. Pan is founder and chairman of Lightwaves 2020. Along with his wife, he co-founded E-Tek Dynamics, which merged with JDS Uniphase in 2000. A pioneer in the fiber optic industry, he worked on coarse WDM projects for the US Department of Defense as early as 1976. He has consistently pursued his interests in the filed of microwave and millimeter-wave fiber optics. and other advanced component and system technologies. Pan received his education in the National Taiwan University and Harvard University.

WDM Solutions: You have created a new company, Lightwaves 2020. What was your primary motive in starting a new company at this time?

Pan: The fiber optic industry is evolving from simple point-to-point connections to true networks with multiple interconnects and channels.  At the same time that fiber optic systems are evolving into more sophisticated networks, fiber optic component manufacturers are under tremendous pressure to provide higher-performance devices at lower cost for the network carriers and system equipment manufacturers.  This pressure creates opportunities for significant revenue and profit generation for innovative component manufacturers.

Lightwaves 2020 is built upon my own base of more than 28 years of accumulated technology development and manufacturing experience in the fiber optic component industry, as well as the extensive experience base of my key colleagues, whom I have worked with over these many years.  This core team is combined with some of the best young engineers in the industry.  We have just completed our state-of-the-art corporate headquarters, research laboratories, and production facilities in Milpitas, CA.

Our initial production integrates advanced fabrication techniques with innovative designs to create fiber optic components and subsystems.  We have placed particular emphasis on our package integration capabilities for immediate volume production at reduced cost.

The fiber optic industry has been—and will continue to be –my life’s work.  I founded Lightwaves 2020 to benefit our industry with advanced fiber optic components and subsystems today, and to create the research platform that will deliver truly breakthrough technologies in the future.  And personally, it is both invigorating and gratifying to coach talented young engineers, giving them the opportunity to advance both technically and financially.

WDM Solutions: So what is your primary technical direction; what sorts of products do you intend to produce?

Pan: Future telecommunications applications will need faster, smaller, more cost-effective, and reliable optical components.  Traditionally, DWDM systems have been built by assembling various discrete components.  To meet the demand for volume components, and facing the reality of a lack of submicron automation manufacturing equipment, Lightwaves 2020 is developing an integration platform of active and passive components.  These components offer greatly increased reliability and functionality while reducing device size and cost, and simplifying packaging.  The additional advantages of these integrated devices are improved signal-to-noise ration and lower power consumption.

We have applied innovative designs and advanced thin-film technologies to produce planar integrated and vertically integrated fiber optic devices, components, and subsystems.  We anticipate these new products will change the way equipment providers design for both long-haul and metro fiber optic infrastructures.  For example, we are developing new materials fabrication technologies, thin-film deposition technologies, and fiber-Brag-grating techniques that incorporate the faster speeds of modulators and variable optical attenuators (VOAs).  We are also developing larger array integration of isolators and circulators, denser channel spacing for wavelength multiplexers/demultiplexers, and broader tuning and modulation for fiber lasers.