The investment – the second from Apple’s $1 billion Advanced Manufacturing Fund – will be used by Finisar to convert a 700,000-square-foot manufacturing plant in Sherman, Texas into a high-tech facility developing vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser (VCSEL) chips. VCSELs – semiconductor laser diodes that emit a highly efficient optical beam vertically from their top surface – are used in numerous applications, including gesture recognition and 3D sensing, optical sensors, and data communications, among others.

Apple uses VCSELs to enable features such as Face ID, Animoji, and Portrait mode selfies with the iPhone X TrueDepth camera, as well as proximity sensing capability with its AirPods. According to Apple, its rapid adoption of depth-sensing technology in recent years has led to the development and production of the most advanced VCSELs used in the history of consumer electronics.

“VCSELs power some of the most sophisticated technology we’ve ever developed and we’re thrilled to partner with Finisar over the next several years to push the boundaries of VCSEL technology and the applications they enable,” says Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer. “We’re extremely proud that our involvement will help transform another American community into a manufacturing powerhouse.”

This investment, says Apple, will create more than 500 high-skill jobs at the Sherman facility, including engineers, technicians and maintenance teams. Hiring, capital equipment planning and infrastructure upgrades are already underway at the facility, which is expected to begin shipping in the second half of 2018.

With its Advanced Manufacturing Fund, Apple has committed to investing at least $1 billion with US-based companies to help foster innovative production and high-skill jobs that will help lay the foundation for a new era of technology-driven manufacturing in the US. In May, Apple awarded materials science company Corning Incorporated (Corning, NY) $200 million to support their R&D, capital equipment needs, and state-of-the-art glass processing.


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