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Walsin Lihwa, MIT to do $3 million in optics research

Walsin Lihwa Corp., a leading cables and wire company in Taiwan, and MIT have signed an agreement to do collaborative research aimed at creating technologies and materials for the next generation of all-optical communications networks.

Under the terms of the agreement, Walsin Lihwa will have exclusive patent and technology licensing rights to inventions resulting from the research collaboration in exchange for its support of this five-year program. Walsin Lihwa's researchers also may serve as visiting scientists at MIT, working collaboratively with students, research staff and faculty.

"This research agreement between MIT and Walsin Lihwa will advance one of the most important areas of research today -- the field of microphotonics, which has enormous implications for the telecommunications and computing industries," said President Charles M. Vest. "We are very enthusiastic about the prospect of working with our colleagues at Walsin on this important frontier."

The five-year sponsored research agreement provides $3 million in the first year to develop integrated laser diodes and optical lightwave circuit devices for compact and low-cost DWDM (dense wavelength-division multiplexing) systems in all-optical communications networks.

"This agreement with MIT registers a significant milestone in Walsin Lihwa's transformation," said Yu-Lon Chiao, chairman of Walsin Lihwa Corp. "With our solid foundation in the optical cables and wire industry, we leverage our strength in materials science to cooperate with MIT, one of the world's leading institutions in science and technology, to develop the future technology for all-optical communication. This is a giant step enabling us to lead in the field of broadband communication in the future."

Mr. Chiao said the collaboration exemplifies the fruitfulness of exchanges promoted by the Epoch Foundation between Taiwanese industries and MIT. Walsin Lihwa has participated in exchange projects with MIT through the Epoch Foundation in the past 10 years.

"Not only do we get innovative technology perspectives from MIT's School of Engineering; we're also profoundly inspired, during our transformation process, by the advanced business creation and management concepts from MIT's Sloan School of Management," said Mr. Chiao. "We have turned ourselves from a local manufacturer to an enterprise that takes initiatives to develop our own technology with a global view."

I-Lin Cheng, Walsin's president and chief technology officer, said, "We are enthusiastic about this promising collaboration. To step into R&D is a long-term commitment and a visionary action for Walsin. Besides the advancement into DWDM thin-film filter manufacturing and the establishment of the first MEMS [microelectromechanical systems] foundry in Taiwan, the partnership with MIT will keep us up with emerging technologies and help develop new technologies and products that lead the future."

Walsin Lihwa Corp. has a tradition of drawing on the academic arena for knowledge and expertise, but in the past has formed long-term alliances primarily with domestic academic institutions. The partnership with MIT is the first direct Walsin Lihwa alliance with an internationally renowned research institution.

"We believe this new joint effort will help set a model for both industries and academic institutions to work together," said Mr. Chiao. "And we hope our small step this time can lead to further development in the future for an even closer integration and cooperation between academic institutions and industry players."

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on April 4, 2001.

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