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Omega's History

Omega Optical has built its technical reputation on defining the state-of-the-art in optical interference filter performance, designing and manufacturing a wide variety of custom and stock filters for scientists and industry worldwide.

In the beginning…

Our founder and President, Robert Johnson D.Sc., was born and raised in Brattleboro, Vermont. Concluding a five year period of employment in Boston Massachusetts for an optical filter manufacturer, he decided to return to southern Vermont in 1968 to establish his own company. A Vermont corporation, Omega Optical, Inc. was formed January 1, 1969.

Omega Optical was formed to pursue research and development opportunities in the field of photonics. Early in the company's history this mission led down a variety of paths. An interest in alternative energy stimulated research into thin-films manufactured from semiconductor materials that would produce electricity from the sun. The goal of inexpensive "photo-electronic conversion" plastic sheets that could be installed on buildings was nearly realized. But the availability of cheap fossil fuels placed the project on hold.

A similar project involving a solar-powered, urban transport vehicle progressed through several road-worthy prototypes. This vehicle named Mho, the inverse of Ohm or "resistance", could travel up to 50 miles with nearly 10 miles of the trip powered by thin-film photovoltaic covering its body. The vehicle was acclaimed at the "Towards 2000" Futures Fair for its forward-looking use of low weight materials and advanced electronic designs.

Omega Optical's Research & Development Group will continue these efforts by developing a solar cell prototype that will enable significant reductions in module cost and substantial increases in module efficiency – leading to acceptable payback times. This objective will be addressed by integrating photovoltaic (PV) and photo-thermal (PT) collection mechanisms while avoiding both scarce and toxic materials. Learn more about Omega's R&D Group and its projects.

As our interference filter production grew, in 1975 we moved to a new location in Brattleboro Vermont on Grove Street. It was at this time that we recognized a possible future in a more subtle analytical tool, the detection of fluorescence, a technique which was being discussed in scientific literature. The science of using light as an analytical tool was relatively new and the company directed its research toward the creation of interference filters for analytical instrument makers. Early applications were in the biomedical and agricultural sciences with universities and researchers being our primary customers. In 1985 our growing work force moved into a second Brattleboro facility in the American Building on Main Street. The extra space fulfilled the growing demands of the biomedical filter manufacturing business.

Beginning in the 1980's our development work in fluorescence allowed us not only to define the science, but for many years capture the entire market world-wide. The sciences of fluorescence microscopy and flow cytometry, which allow for the visualization of cellular structures and the sorting and analysis of cells, were made possible by design and manufacturing developments invented by Omega Optical.

By the mid 80's our work in the field of astronomy was in its early stages. One of the first projects was the manufacture of a set of filters for the analysis of Halley's Comet. A number of high profile observational astronomy projects followed. The 1990's saw the challenge of repairing the Hubble Space Telescope's Wide-field Planetary Camera and projects for NASA's Martian Lander and the next generation space telescope.

In 2005 we moved to our current facility on the Delta Campus, located in Brattleboro. Learn more about the Delta Campus.

Omega Optical has grown steadily throughout its four decade history. What started as a "one-man" operation is now a $13 million company with over 100 employees. Our products are used in instruments that have led to advancements in Life Science and Clinical Medicine, helped to unlock the mysteries of the Human Gene Sequence and probe the depths of the universe. While the late 20th century has been called the digital age, it's been said that the next scientific revolution will be in the science of photonics. Wherever that revolution leads Omega Optical will be there — where there's no end in light.

Social Responsibility

We have set the standards for social responsibility since our inception. Through-out the 1980's we have spun-off several businesses and institutes, changing the commercial and social landscape of the Brattleboro area. "Friends of the Sun" was organized as a retail and service provider for alternative energy products manufactured by Omega. "Solar Hill" was established as an alternative energy educational institution. Today Friends of the Sun remains an alternative energy store, while Solar Hill, (located at the former site of Mark Hopkins College and the Governor Gibson Mansion), evolved into a center for alternative health care practitioners and a private primary school, "Neighborhood Schoolhouse".

Our own "WASTE WATCHERS"

Our Waste Watchers program established in 2006 continues to expand and refine its solid waste reduction program. Our goal is to recover 85% of our spent resources and make them available for use by other individuals and businesses. As an example, 90% of non-recyclable, mixed paper is captured and delivered to a composting facility where it is processed and sold as organic garden compost.

In addition, we reach out to our community through our Sustainable Purchasing Program. The Program provides incentives to minimize waste and develop conservative habits.