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Corning's Green Laser Envy

The company sees a breakthrough looming.

Corning's (GLW) analyst day discussion held few surprises, but fans of the company's display business were teased with a few tidbits of information about a new type of glass to be unveiled before July.


reaffirming financial guidance given a week ago, CEO Wendell Weeks and other Corning executives discussed 2006 market opportunities at an annual investor meeting at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in New York Friday.

After the presentations, the panel took questions from analysts and investors. Not shockingly, most queries were aimed at Peter Volanakis, the head of Corning's fastest growing business -- the liquid crystal display or LCD unit.

Volanakis was asked to share what he could about a new glass he'd mentioned during his presentation. He said he wasn't in a position to comment yet and was awaiting the results of some tests the glass was performing.

But he did say that the glass is "closer to perfection" than glass now in production, meaning fewer impurities that will require less finishing work and presumably shave some manufacturing costs. The new glass was also designed to be more environmentally-friendly.

Anticipating rules to make recycling computer and related equipment mandatory, Corning says it has developed the glass using fewer "environmentally objectionable" chemical compounds.

Looking ahead, the Corning executives said they were optimistic about a few new technologies that could evolve into big growth businesses. Among the most promising areas in development, says Corning technology chief Joe Miller, is green lasers.

The lasers are a key breakthrough which may open up opportunities for micro-projectors that can be used in cell phones to beam images onto flat surfaces for viewing.

Miller says green is the missing color needed to make full-color images with microprojectors. While blue lasers and red lasers are fairly common, said Miller, Corning has made big strides on a green laser.

Miller says green lasers have been in development at the company's largely idled fiber optic cable facility and, unlike other emerging technologies that take about eight years to reach commercial availability, the project was "moving faster."

Corning shares rose 34 cents, to $24.55, in afternoon trading Friday.