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The University of Southampton

New company aims to project the future in our homes and businesses

Published: 8 July 2009

A new spin-out company from the University of Southampton is to offer more energy-efficient and cost-effective laser projection devices for our homes and business.

Covesion, an innovative new optoelectronics enterprise, has spun-out of the University of Southampton following a £750,000 investment from East Hill Management.

The company produces wavelength conversion crystals which are used to transform the colour of laser light. Building on existing commercialisation activity, this investment will enable them to scale up production for future consumer electronics applications.

In use, a Covesion crystal is placed in an intense laser beam from which it generates new wavelengths (colours) of laser light such as red, green and blue for projection displays. Laser projectors create brighter colours, in a more energy-efficient format than traditional light bulb based units.

Consumer demand for light projection technologies is growing rapidly. The immediate drivers are coming from industry, home cinema and applications in back projection TV. Wavelength converted lasers enable new types of devices such as mobile phones that have projectors and laptops with built-in projection.

Academic founder Professor Peter Smith says: “With our already proven production techniques plus the patented crystal technology, we are in a unique position to use this investment to become market leaders in non-linear devices for the fast-growing laser projection market. The company represents years of research undertaken at the University of Southampton.”

The pioneering research and development work conducted by the Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC) at the University, has played a pivotal role in the development of optical technology. For example, in the optical fibres and amplifiers that underpin the internet, in laser technology and nonlinear optics.

Technologies based on research from the ORC have been successfully commercialised though the formation of a photonics cluster that now totals 10 companies in the Southampton area, including Fibrecore Ltd, SPI Lasers (now part of TRUMPF Group) and Stratophase.

The University of Southampton is a shareholder in Covesion and will retain strong links to the company through staff secondments and further consultancy. Dr Corin Gawith, a Senior Research Fellow in the ORC, will be seconded to the company to lead the development of the Covesion crystal products.

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