Apple awards extra $410 million to optical firm that makes LiDAR lasers

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Advanced manufacturing
This is the latest investment from Apple's Advanced Manufacturing Fund.
Photo: Apple

Apple has awarded an additional $410 million from its Advanced Manufacturing Fund to II-VI, a firm that makes optical technology for the iPhone, including the laser for the LiDAR scanner found in the iPhone 12 Pro.

Apple previously awarded the firm $390 million back in 2017. The extra cash will “accelerate delivery of future components” for iPhone. It will also help fund the creation of more than 700 jobs in Texas, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Illinois.

“We established Apple’s Advanced Manufacturing Fund to support American businesses creating next-generation technology and the jobs of tomorrow,” said Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer, in a statement. “II-VI shares our commitment to push the boundaries of innovation and we’re proud to be extending our work together across the country.”

Apple’s press release notes that II-VI is part of Apple’s Clean Energy Program. This is a commitment to use 100% clean, renewable energy across all of Apple’s US-based manufacturing.

Cupertino introduced its Advanced Manufacturing Fund in May 2017. Initially Apple said it was investing $1 billion in the fund, although it has already shot past that initial target. Apple currently touts it as a $5 billion fund. “We asked ourselves, ‘How can we get more people to do advanced manufacturing in the United States?’” CEO Tim Cook said in an interview at the time.

Apple currently features the LiDAR sensor in only the top-tier iPhones and iPads. However, over time it seems likely that this will filter down to lower-end devices. It will be interesting to see whether Apple’s additional funds to to II-VI is linked with that mission.