Category: News

lithuania lasers
News
Laser technologies in Lithuania

The export rate of Lithuania laser association companies is over 80 percent.

A full business ecosystem.

95 out of the world’s Top100 universities, NASA, CERN, DESY, and ELI are using Lithuanian laser technologies.

A full business ecosystem.

Over the past 15 years, we made great technological progress, joined industrial value chains, and are on a global expansion course.

Lithuania’s laser and optics community currently include 54 mainly small and medium-sized companies with around 1,300 employees.

kimm ftmc
News
FTMC signed a memorandum of understanding with the Korea Institute of machinery and materials

On Monday, May 9th, Dr. Sang Jin Park, the president of KIMM (the Korea Institute of machinery and materials), signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) focusing on the field of laser light sources with the Center for Physical Sciences and Technology (FTMC).

FTMC is the largest national research institute in Lithuania, founded by the merger of research institutes in physics, chemistry, and semiconductor physics. The center’s reputation prompted the KIMM Department of Laser & Electron Beam Technologies to pursue joint research efforts in the field of laser light sources. Of Lithuania’s machine industry sectors, its laser sector is one of the most competitive globally.

After the signing of the MoU, President Sang Jin Park and KIMM delegation visited the Lithuanian Ministry of the Economic and Innovation to discuss future cooperation with Vice Minister Jovita Neliupšienė.

According to the Vice-Minister Jovita Neliupšienė, “Lithuanian government considers the Republic of Korea as an important potential partner for scientific technology cooperation”. She also added that the government “hopes to facilitate more cooperation with KIMM in the field of advanced manufacturing equipment through this meeting”. With the FTMC MoU, KIMM has established a foothold for research cooperation with three Baltic countries, which boast excellent original mechanical technology.

KIMM delegation also visited Light Conversion and Ekspla, laser manufacturing companies.

(Photo Credit: KIMM)

lazeriu asociacija
News
Our strength? — Collaboration!

A highly dynamic photonics industry is forming in Lithuania.

 

Dr. Gediminas Račiukaitis, President of the Lithuanian Laser Association and Head of the Laser Technologies Department at the Center for Physical Sciences and Technology (FTMC) has accompanied the rise of the strongly exports-oriented industry from the very beginning. Among its pioneers is Kestutis Jasiūnas, CEO of EKSPLA, a laser manufacturer founded in 1992. Its ultrafast lasers are used in top research facilities around the globe. In this interview, Jasiūnas and Račiukaitis talk about the scientific roots of their industry, the increasing diversity of solution providers across the entire process chain—and about joint trade fair booths as a lever to promote Lithuania as an innovative photonics hub.

Dr. Račiukaitis, can you please give us some facts and figures about the industry you represent as President of the Lithuanian Laser Association?

Dr. Gediminas Račiukaitis: We represent Lithuania’s laser and optics community, which currently includes 54 mainly small and medium-sized companies with around 1,300 employees. Half of them are direct members, the other half cooperate with us only selectively. So far, we have operated as an interest group at the national level, but we are expanding our focus to include European politics and international issues. Another focus of our association’s work is the coordination between industry and research, as well as the promotion of photonic solutions to potential industrial users at home and abroad. The latter is becoming increasingly successful. On average, the export rate of our companies is over 80 percent. To make Lithuania’s photonics industry even better known and to make smaller suppliers heard, we organize joint visits abroad and joint booths at international trade fairs such as the LASER World of PHOTONICS. Over the past 15 years, we made great technological progress, joined industrial value chains and are on a global expansion course. To achieve this, we must hold our own against strong competitors. To gain strategic clarity, we are currently drafting a Roadmap for the next decade.

Mr. Jasiūnas, would you also briefly introduce your company EKSPLA?

Kestutis Jasiūnas: Our company was founded in 1992 by eight engineers practically right after Lithuania’s breakaway from Russian occupation. We had laser know-how and sold the first laser to Japan already in the year after the foundation. By the end of the nineties, we sold 80 percent of our lasers there. With this reference, we were gradually able to make ourselves heard in Europe and in the U.S.. Today, our company has 140 employees and is targeting sales of 20 million euros—a 25 % increase over the previous year. Our latest developments and how the market accepts these developments enables us to think so: a lot of attention from the market was attracted by our industrial femtosecond laser that features 24/7 maintenance-free operation as well as a new line of scientific tunable wavelength lasers offering un-matched tuning range from the one box. We also offer OPCPA (Optical Parametric Chirped Pulse Amplification) lasers, the technology for which our friend Prof. Gérard Mourou received his Nobel Prize. The precursors of these lasers were developed already in 1992 at the Laser Research Center of Vilnius University.

This time, Lithuania is present at the LASER World of PHOTONICS with 24 exhibitors and three joint booths. Are there any technology fields in which you see Lithuania as particularly strong?

Račiukaitis: One of our strengths is in the area of optical components. Several suppliers have established their operations here, using state-of-the-art machining, polishing, and coating. And we have a particular strength in ultrafast laser technology. Here, we are now operating absolutely on a par with French, German and US suppliers. At the last LASER, we joked with colleagues from France. “What we have in mind as ideas, you Lithuanians have had already implemented,” one of them joked. Even if everyone laughed, it was a nice compliment that shows us we are on the right track.

Jasiūnas: If you ask me about our greatest strength, the answer is collaboration. And that is between science and industry as well as between companies, even if they are in direct competition with each other. We have realized that we do much better in the global market when we support each other. We are in technological competition, but we help each other with contacts, join forces in joint development projects and stand shoulder to shoulder at joint trade show booths. Our innovative strength certainly also stems from the fact that distances are short, and we maintain a constant exchange of information between research institutes and companies. Almost a closed loop—they hear from us what is in demand in the market. We learn the latest scientific findings and receive their support in transferring them into our products.

Most of the companies are young and appear highly modern in terms of innovative spirit, brand image as well as equipment and buildings. However, what is the scientific tradition on which today’s founding generation can build?

Račiukaitis: I agree with Kestutis. Almost all companies are spin-offs from research institutes. We know each other and have an almost family-like relationship. The scientific roots often go back deep into the Soviet era. As early as the 1960s, Lithuanian students experimented with lasers in Moscow and brought the know-how along with the necessary components here. In the 1970s, there were two strong poles in Vilnius: The Institute of Physics and the Vilnius University Laser Research Center, 20 km away. At that time, they provided a constant technological competition and pushed each other. The two then largest laser manufacturers started as spin-offs of these institutes: LIGHT CONVERSION along with EKSMA, the 1983 founded forerunner of today’s EKSMA Optics and EKSPLA. The most effective way to generate energy is a dipole. This also applies to the specific innovative power in our industry.

You are head of the Laser Technologies Department at the renowned Center for Physical Sciences and Technology (FTMC). What are your main areas of focus and to what extent do you maintain collaborations with industry and other scientific institutions in this regard?

Račiukaitis: Our institute is currently involved in four funding projects of EU Horizon program. Two of them deal with the establishment of digital innovation hubs as competence centers for companies that want to find out more about the use of laser technologies or plan for their use. The others are concerning laser-based accelerators for particles. In these projects, we work closely with European partners. We are also a founding member of the European Consortium for Research Infrastructures for Extreme Light Infrastructure (ELI ERIC), which operates two laser centers in the Czech Republic and Hungary. In Hungary, state-of-the-art high-energy ultrashort-pulse laser systems are in use, which, by the way, we are developing together with EKSPLA and LIGHT CONVERSION. Here, what we’ve just said becomes concrete: even long-standing competitors are collaborating.

EKSPLA’s roots go back to 1983. How much know-how from back then is still in your portfolio of ultrafast lasers for industry and science?

Jasiūnas: If anything, it’s only in trace elements. Of course, the basic physics are the same. But so much has changed technologically that the systems are no longer comparable. Parameters, performance, controls have very little to do with the solutions in our early days. Long after our founding, there was the dictum that development was done with the achievement of picosecond pulses. Today, we are moving into the attosecond range for research purposes. Meanwhile, femto- and picosecond technology has become highly reliable. In parallel, we see a demand in materials processing with longer pulse durations between 500 pico- and 10 nanoseconds.

EKSPLA offers a wide range of solid-state and fiber lasers, some designed for high-energy processes and some tunable. Are there any markets that have developed particularly well recently and that you are intensifying your research and development for?

Jasiūnas: One interesting field of research and application in which we are increasingly investing is photoacoustic solutions for medical diagnostics. For example, in breast cancer screening. Patients find existing mammograms unpleasant, their diagnostics are not particularly reliable, and radiation exposure is high. We are involved in a funded project that is advancing a painless and radiation-free photoacoustic method based on a tunable nanosecond laser. The results so far are very encouraging, especially about the reliability of the findings.

My final question to both of you: Lithuania’s photonics industry is strongly export-oriented. Does it also import, for example, when purchasing components, equipment, or know-how?

Račiukaitis: Here you hit on one of our weak points. Unlike South Korea, Japan, or many EU states, Lithuania does not have the large industrial anchor investors around whose factories entire supplier ecosystems develop. So far, no automobiles or semiconductor chips are manufactured here. We are looking for domestic industrial customers for whom photonic solutions can create added value.

Jasiūnas: Imports are primarily crystals and technical glass. For the supplied components for our lasers, we rely on the domestic supply chain. As Gediminas already mentioned, we have top-suppliers of optical components in the country. The fact that their products can hold their own in international competition is evident from the fact that our laser systems equipped with them are in demand at top research institutes around the globe. Our customers include CERN, NASA, ELI, various Max Planck Institutes, Cambridge University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the Japan University of Science. Our domestic Lithuanian supply chain stands for quality at the highest international level.

The article was published: https://world-of-photonics.com/en/newsroom/photonics-industry-portal/photonics-interview/dr-gediminas-raciukaitis-kestutis-jasiunas/

photonics west
News
Lithuanian laser companies receive attention in the US

As many as 17 Lithuanian companies representing the laser sector participated in Photonics West, one of the largest specialized and hugely popular exhibitions in San Francisco (USA).

This year, Altechna, Ekspla, Eksma Optics, Standa, Direct Machining Control, LIGHT CONVERSION, Litilit, Optoman, Quantum Light Instruments, Integrated optics, Optogama, ADOS-TECH, FEMTIKA, Lidaris, QS Lasers, 3photons, and Workshop of Photonics represented the Lithuanian laser sector at Photonics West, which took place at the end of January. The country’s companies presented the latest technological applications, laser systems, components, and other solutions.

 

Members of the Laser Association – globally recognized

The annual three-day Photonics West exhibition culminates in the Prism Awards ceremony, often referred to as the “Oscars” by laser professionals. Each year, cutting-edge companies from around the world compete for recognition and the coveted Prism Awards. The Prism Awards are presented to laser, photonics, or optics companies for their most innovative products of the year. This year, 120 entries were submitted. Two Lithuanian laser companies – Direct Machining Control and Litilit – were shortlisted for the Prism Awards.

Šarūnas Vaškelis, sales manager at Direct Machining Control, which develops software for laser systems, is delighted that the company, although ultimately unsuccessful in the competition, made it through to the awards’ finals are highly valued by laser and photonics professionals. „We are delighted to have been nominated alongside photonics industry giants such as Zemax and innovators like Meetoptics.

The technology we presented is unique globally and makes it easier for companies to develop 5-axis laser systems. We appreciate this recognition, which we hope will promote Lithuanian technology around the world,“ says Direct Machining Control’s sales manager.

Mr Vaškelis is echoed by Nikolajus Gavrilinas, director of Litilit. The company’s Neolit ultrashort pulse generator laser was competing in the finals for the award in the industrial laser category. „We are proud to be among the strongest finalists and delighted to have been recognized by industry experts for the innovations we are developing in Lithuania,“ says Litilit’s director.

This year, the Prism Awards 2022 organizers have announced nominees in ten categories: augmented & virtual reality, autonomous transport, software, lasers for industry and science, photonics devices for biomedicine, etc. So far, from among Lithuanian companies, only UAB Ekspla has won at the Prism Awards, receiving recognition in the Scientific Lasers category in 2011.

After the break, a better quality event

The exhibition was visited by Consul General of the Republic of Lithuania in Los Angeles Laima Jurevičienė together with Commercial Attaché to the USA Mantas Zamžickas.

According to the diplomat, it is gratifying to see that the Photonics West event is attended by a growing number of Lithuanian laser technology and component manufacturers.

„This year, many of the participating companies have noticed that the quality of the exhibition has increased after the lockdown year, and the number of targeted contacts has increased. The companies interviewed are very positive about the exhibition and are happy to have had the opportunity to return to live meetings with potential customers and partners after the break,“ says Commercial Attaché Mantas Zamžickas.

According to the laser manufacturers, the USA remains one of the priority markets for the export of Lithuanian-developed lasers and laser systems. About 20% of Lithuanian laser production has been exported to the US in the past few years. To work more closely with partners and customers, a group of Lithuanian companies is planning to open a joint representative office in the US, stimulating even higher sales in one of the world’s most competitive markets.

 

 

News
Lithuania – the Founder of the Extreme Light European Research Infrastructure Consortium, Called “Laser CERN”
On 16 June 2021, during the General Assembly, European Consortium for Research Infrastructures (ERIC) for Extreme Light Infrastructure (ELI) took place. Lithuania is one of the founders of the so-called “laser CERN”, the world’s leading consortium of laser research infrastructures. The ELI ERIC consortium was established by Lithuania along with the founders of two international powerful laser centers in the Czech Republic and Hungary, which were later joined by Italy.
News
Lithuanian laser technologies save lives

Light has significantly influenced our scientific understanding of the world. Having learnt to control it, humans now harness it for their own purposes. Light-related experiments and inventions are likely to draw huge public interest. Scientific studying of light will, no doubt, continue meaning many interesting discoveries and innovations are yet to emerge. More…