Industry > Technology Transfer > Arbor Photonics

Arbor Photonics - acquired by nLIGHT

Founded: 2007
Founders: Prof. Almantas Galvanauskas, Michelle Stock (BSE MSE PhD EE '88 '90 '94),
Phillip Amaya
Product/Service: Compact, high-power fiber lasers for industrial and life science applications
Location: Ann Arbor, MI
Website: -
Arbor Photonics is committed to providing high power laser solutions that increase productivity and enable new capabilities for advanced laser materials processing and defense applications. We are developing highly reliable fiber lasers that feature an unmatched combination of beam quality and optical power. Our proprietary fiber platform technology expands the limits of single-mode laser performance to hundreds of watts of average pulsed power and multi-kilowatts of continuous wave optical power. These lasers can enable dramatic improvements in throughput and processing speed in microelectronics manufacturing, solar cell processing and industrial materials processing applications. [Arbor Photonics Website]

In the News

Jan 8, 2013

nLIGHT buys high-power fiber laser innovator Arbor Photonics

Acquisition gives US company access to proprietary power-boosting technology first developed at University of Michigan.
Helical side-core
Helical side-core

nLight, the semiconductor laser maker based in Vancouver, Washington, has acquired the high-power fiber laser start-up Arbor Photonics for an undisclosed sum.

The University of Michigan (UM) spin-out, which is based in Ann Arbor, has pioneered the development of a proprietary technology it calls “Chirally-Coupled Core” (3C).

The patented approach, which Arbor licensed exclusively from UM in August 2008, is said to enable state-of-the-art high-power fiber lasers with peak powers of up to 100 kW.

“The Arbor Photonics team and 3C technology are a valuable addition to nLight,” said Scott Keeney, the firm's president and CEO, in a statement announcing the deal. “Vertical integration of core technology is critical to our growth strategy.”

“3C fiber technology is critical to enable advanced applications that require high peak-power and single-mode beam quality,” added Jake Bell, nLight's VP and general manager. “[The technology] is also polarization-maintaining, which is essential for generation of green and ultraviolet (UV) wavelengths.”

Those shorter wavelengths are seen as increasingly important for fine materials processing applications, and the fiber laser market leader IPG Photonics has recently launched such products.

The "3C" concept
According to Arbor, the “3C” concept is based on a revolutionary type of optical fiber that features an internal structure designed to produce single spatial mode output from very large mode area fibers. The concept was invented at the University of Michigan’s Center for Ultrafast Optical Science by Almantas Galvanauskas - who is also Arbor’s chief scientist.

The performance is achieved by introducing two waveguides within the fiber structure, according to US patent 7,424,193. Those waveguides feature a large-diameter central core and a smaller, off-center, “side core”. The side core is helically wound around the central core, close enough to interact with laser modes that are propagating through the central core.

With the appropriate design, phase-matching conditions are created that couple higher-order modes into the side core, where they are then radiated out into the fiber cladding. “This structure favors single-mode operation by design and provides an extremely robust output beam,” notes the company.

Equity funding
nLight, which first emerged as a start-up amid the optical telecommunications boom in 2000, now sells a wide range of high-power laser diodes aimed primarily at industrial, medical and defense applications.

In August 2011, the venture-backed company attracted $17.5 million in its series E financing round, while an SEC filing dated January 2, 2013, revealed that the firm had raised a further $3 million.

At the time of the series E financing round, Keeney said that following the successful launch of its multi-kilowatt laser platform nLight had registered more than $60 million in order bookings for the first half of 2011.

Arbor, which was incorporated in 2007, had raised $2.25 million in equity funding according to the company’sown March 2009 SEC filing. In September 2010, the company also won a Phase 1B Small Business Research Innovation (SBIR) funding extension from the US National Science Foundation to continue developing the technology for potential applications in extreme ultraviolet (EUV) plasma generation – something requiring very high laser drive power.


Jan 7, 2013

nLIGHT Invests in Advanced Fiber Laser Technology Through Acquisition of Arbor Photonics, Inc.

VANCOUVER, Wash. USA January 7, 2013 –  nLIGHT Corporation (nLIGHT) today announced the acquisition of Arbor Photonics, Inc., based in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Arbor Photonics is the pioneer of Chirally-Coupled Core (3C®) fiber technology. The patented 3C® fiber technology has been demonstrated to enable state-of-the-art high power fiber lasers that can be used in a wide range of new material processing, defense, and medical applications.

“The Arbor Photonics team and 3C® technology are a valuable addition to nLIGHT,” said Scott Keeney, nLIGHT President and CEO. “Vertical integration of core technology is critical to our growth strategy.”  

“3C® fiber technology is critical to enable advanced applications that require high peak-power and single-mode beam quality,” said Jake Bell, nLIGHT Vice President and General Manager. “3C® fiber is also polarization maintaining, which is essential for generation of green and ultraviolet (UV) wavelengths.”

ann logoApr 22, 2011

Scio Township-based Arbor Photonics to get $150K federal grant for laser project

Scio Township-based Arbor Photonics Inc. is the recipient of a $149,855 federal grant for a fiber laser project, U.S. Sens. Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow announced today.

The two lawmakers said Arbor Photonics, 251 Jackson Plaza, and three other Michigan small businesses will receive U.S. Department of Energy funding for high-tech projects under the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs.

Expand this Article   Hide

© Ryan J. Stanton: (734) 623-2529,

crains detroit business logoMar 06, 2011

Arbor Photonics seeks spinoff success with more powerful lasers

Arbor Photonics Inc. hopes to parlay a recent series of grants and awards, including $150,000 at last December's Accelerate Michigan contest, into the kind of commercial success enjoyed by previous spinoffs from the University of Michigan's Center for Ultrafast Optical Science.

The Ann Arbor-based company uses a UM patent in optical fiber design to improve the power and quality of laser beams with potential industrial,aerospace and military applications.

Expand this Article   Hide

© Crain's Detroit Business. Tom Henderson: (313) 446-0337,

xconomy logoJan 12, 2011

For Arbor Photonics, a Myriad of Reasons Not to Flee to the Coasts

When Phillip Amaya, CEO of Arbor Photonics, was first brought in to head up the advanced laser processing company, he said he had every intention of locating the start up in California. But Michigan’s aggressive approach to home-growing businesses and keeping them in the state changed Amaya’s mind.

“The state came through to help us out,” Amaya says of his decision to keep the company in Ann Arbor. “Their programs accomplished what they were intended to do.”

Expand this Article   Hide

© Xconomy Detroit. Jillian Berman is an intern for Xconomy Detroit.

lightwave logoDec 21, 2010

EECS Spinoffs Recognized as Key Innovators in Business Competition

Competing with more than 600 companies for more than $1M in awards, Arbor Photonics took 2nd place overall and $150K, while Evigia was awarded a prize of $25K in the category of Defense & Homeland Security at The Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition, held December 9-11. Both companies are spinoffs of Electrical and Computer Engineering faculty and students.

Expand this Article   Hide

@ EECS News. Catharine June: (734) 936-2965,

um news logoNov 26, 2007

U-M's Frankel Fund announces its first investment

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—The Frankel Commercialization Fund, a student-managed venture capital seed fund at the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business, has announced its first investment.

The fund will provide $85,000 to Arbor Photonics, an Ann Arbor company commercializing technology that originated in the U-M's Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS). Ann Arbor-based RPM Ventures, which invests in university spinouts and technology-focused companies that target customers based in the Midwest, led the initial round of financing.

Expand this Article   Hide

© UM Press Release. Bernie DeGroat: (734) 647-1847,