Executive Interview - Dr. Yakov L. Vorokhovsky, CEO/president, Morion
High precision oscillators
Tell us about the history of Morion and its evolution to become an independent company?
As independent company, Morion started on January 5, 1971. So, next January we will be 45 years old. Before 1971, crystals’ design and manufacturing were a part of the large radio electronic company (named “Kozitsky radioplant”). Historically we started production of quartz crystal devices in the early 1930s.
During WWII part of the plant was evacuated from St.Petersburg (former Leningrad) to West Siberia, in city Omsk where the daughter company was started.
Since the the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, Morion has lost a very large portion of its business, and in 1993-94 it was privatized. By the way, our first Chairman of the Board and major stockholder was Mr. Juergen H. Staudte – an outstanding, talented and far-sighted American physicist. I would say he was a genius of the crystal industry. “Was,” since he passed away in aircraft crash on May 19th, 1999. Juergen Staudte had provided his talent, knowledge, effort and reputation to increase Morion’s efficiency. The first stockholders’ meeting, where I was elected as President/CEO, took place on August 15th, 1994. In 1997, Juergen also invited European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) to invest in Morion’s growth. In particular, Dr. Reinhard Kohleick from EBRD’s Venture Fund Quadriga Capital played a significant positive role in Morion’s success.
Nothing from the old technologies remained; a new product portfolio had been developed. We developed complicated, high-performance devices in the first line for precise OCXOs. Now we supply our products worldwide for hundreds of customers in many countries. Morion’s productivity per person has increased byabout 140 times.
Morion is known for its precision designs, how has the company maintained design leadership over the years?
We have a skilled team and are focused on the highest quality devices we can make (that includes our control of the raw materials, the design, plus our own special equipment and tools), close connections to the most important systems’ market players, etc.
But in general you “just” should run faster than other people who try to catch up with you. The truth is that usually it is hard work, but…interesting.
Morion supplies parts to the Russian Federal Space Agency, NASA and other space organizations - what are some of the high profile space programs you have participated in?
Space programs indeed represent a significant and very important part of Morion business. Some of well-known programs we have participated in are the following:
· COSPAS/SARSAT (Search-and-Rescue Satellite System);
· Russian Space Shuttle “Buran” and the launcher “Energiya”;
· International piloted Space Station;
· Space transport vehicles – their docking and control systems;
· Communication satellites “Express” and “Lutch”;
· All versions of “GLONASS” (this word means an abbreviation from Global Navigation Satellite System – Russian system like American GPS).
In fact we supply practically all the national Space programs and all their constellations.
We also successfully participated in Russian part of “Mars – Odyssey” project performed by NASA with participation of RAS (Russian Academy of Science).
Morion controls the whole production process from quartz blank to a finished quartz oscillator in one facility – what advantages does that offer?
Actually, this question contains the answer. Many stages in design and technology starting from blanks are tricky. The result, reflected in OCXO’s parameters, is very dependent and sensitive not only to oscillator’s design and technology, but also to those related to crystal and blank. Without control of the blanks’ and crystals’, design and technology we would risk reducing the quality and flexibility.
What are the key parameters in selecting and manufacturing the quartz crystal raw material?
There are some specific parameters like inclusions, etch channels, etc. But also the reliability of supply, reputation of supplier, and their experience are important.
With your precision quartz oscillator designs, what are the best specifications you have been able to achieve for some of the key parameters?
There are following best specifications:
· 3 to 5 x E-13 for the short-term stability (ADEV) for 1s;
· -116 to -120 dBc/Hz at 1 Hz for 10 MHz and -180 dBc/Hz at 10 000 Hz for 100 MHz for Phase Noise;
· 5 x E-11 for frequency stability vs. operating temperature range;
· 5 x E-11/day and 5 x E-9/year for long-term stability;
· Height of 10 to 12.7 mm for class E-10 stability oscillators.
It is important to highlight: what is the best for today may become obsolete very soon, as short as a year.
Although Morion is known for quartz oscillators, what other products do you manufacture?
Besides precision oscillators, Morion’s other strengths are filters with high performance characteristics, for example notch filters, very narrow passband filters, multipole filters. We also supply our partners with high quality double-rotated blanks (SC-, IT – cut, etc.), that are already precisely angle corrected, contoured, polished and/or deep etched.
What are the primary applications for your quartz oscillators?
There are different tasks in positioning and timing, communication, test and measurement, control systems, radars, etc. that make up our primary markets.
What are your major growth markets for the next couple of years?
We are strongly targeted to succeed in doing business in different parts of the Globe – US and Canada, Germany and other EU-countries and Asia. Of course, our domestic Russian market is very significant and important to us.
You have won many prestigious awards over the years such as the C.B. Sawyer Award and Russian Federation State Prize Laureate in Science and Technics – what has been the most rewarding part of your career?
In fact, I had started working on many things at an early stage of my career that I was rewarded for much later. I think it happens quite often. Now I continue my intensive work and, hopefully, efficient work, and there is a possibility that the most rewarding part of my career is in the future.