Category: News

Lithuania’s Laser Industry Makes Headlines in Korean News

The Chosun, the oldest and largest newspaper in South Korea recently published an article about Lithuania’s cutting-edge laser technology. Korea associates our country’s success in the laser industry with companies such as Akoneer that drive innovation by actively collaborating with academia to develop new technology.

Lithuania is the Unrivaled Leader in Laser Manufacturing

Lithuania was described as a small Baltic country with a population of 2.7 million. Despite its size, the country is unrivaled globally within the laser industry. There are around 60 companies that are exporting laser devices and related technologies to leading companies and research institutes and to over 80 countries around the world. Lithuania’s laser industry, with an independent ecosystem, remains unaffected by external threats, as explained by Lithuanian Laser Association (LLA) President Gediminas Račiukaitis in the article.


From Developing Cutting-Edge Technology to Winning Prestigious Awards

Lasers, at their core, work by producing the power of a nuclear power plant in a small space and an extremely short period of time, are considered an essential element in today’s high-tech industries. Laser micromachining is effective in precisely processing various materials. For instance, hundreds of thousands of semiconductor and glass components that go into smartphones or TV displays are all cut with lasers.

The Chosun acknowledged that Lithuanian company EKSPLA won the Oscar of the laser industry, the prestigious International Society for Optics and Photonics (SPIE) Prism Award, for the best laser – the FemtoLux 30. The SPIE Prism Awards are held during the Photonics West (USA) conference and exhibition. EKSPLA Chairman Kęstutis Jasiūnas explained that ‘if the 21st century was the era of electrons, the 22nd century will be the era of photons (which make up lasers).’

Akoneer Drives Innovation through Industry-Academia Cooperation

Lithuania’s competitiveness in laser technology was associated with active industry-academia cooperation. Lithuania’s first laser was fired in 1966 – merely six years after the world’s first laser in the US. The first Lithuanian laser was used to research semiconductors. Since then, laser laboratories have been established at the Institute of Physics and at Vilnius University. Currently, there are five laser research universities and institutes in Lithuania, and about 200 scientists and 1,800 professionals are working in the laser industry.

Companies also actively acquire the latest research from academia. Akoneer, a Lithuanian company specializing in laser micromachining systems for industrial and scientific applications, serves as an example of such collaboration in the article. Company’s CEO Rokas Šlekys was quoted, explaining that Akoneer’s CTO is working part-time at a research institute and is responsible for developing new technology. ‘We often collaborate with academia for this purpose’, he said. In 2022, the company introduced laser machines for Selective Surface Activation Induced by Laser (SSAIL) technology that enables conductive traces to be formed on many standard dielectric materials.

„Akoneer“ lazerinio mikroapdirbimo sistema

Lithuania’s Milestone with Taiwan and Strengthening Cooperation with Korea

For the first time in 18 years in Europe, a Taiwanese representative office has been established in Lithuania. Taiwan is home to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), the world’s largest semiconductor consignment production company, and the two countries are accelerating cooperation by opening the Lithuanian Laser Laboratory in Taiwan in September of last year.

Lithuania’s next step is to strengthen cooperation with Korea. LLA President Gediminas Račiukaitis said that the conditions for exchange between the two countries have improved, such as the establishment of the Korean Embassy in Vilnius this year. In July of last year, President Yoon Suk Yeol visited Lithuania, the first Korean president to do so. The leaders of the two countries promised to expand cooperation in the high-tech industry, including the laser field, and to open the Korean Embassy in Lithuania. Korea and Lithuania established diplomatic relations in 1991 and are celebrating their 33rd anniversary this year.

Laser Lithuania: why Lithuania is punching above its weight in laser technologies

In the world of lasers, Lithuania needs no introduction. Despite its modest size, the country is a global player in both scientific and industrial laser technologies, exporting laser solutions to over 80 countries and partnering with the likes of NASA and CERN. And with the ever-increasing global demand for laser applications, the impressive growth rate that Lithuania’s laser sector has been demonstrating is set to continue.

On June 27 to 30, 2023, in Munich, 30 Lithuanian laser companies will present their photonics components, systems, and applications at the Laser World of Photonics – the leading trade fair for the photonics industry. With the event just around the corner, Dr. Gediminas Račiukaitis, the President of the Lithuanian Laser Association, explains how Lithuania made its mark on the global laser scene.

Lithuania’s leadership in laser technologies might be surprising, given the country’s small size. How has Lithuania become a hub of laser technologies?

In the 1960s, the laser was among a number of new scientific discoveries that emerged. At the time, Lithuanian scientists who had been working with optics and microwaves chose lasers as the next area to specialise in. In 1966, the first laser was fired in Lithuania, a mere six years after the world’s very first.

Ever since, there have been two directions of laser development in Lithuania – fundamental research concerned with creating the laser beam itself, and research into laser applications. I believe that this is where our strength lies: we have people working on controlling the light and improving the laser itself, and people searching for its best application.

While we started with research, it didn’t take long for us to begin looking into the ways our lasers could be used in various industries. It’s been forty years since we started selling our lasers, and roughly two decades since our industrial laser production has picked up speed. Today, we have a full-value chain of laser technologies in Lithuania – from optical coatings to laser workstations and beyond.

Lithuania is home to over 60 companies building and producing laser technologies. What kind of lasers are made in Lithuania, and what are they used for?

There are three key competences of our laser sector – reliable industrial ultrashort pulse lasers, high-intensity petawatt and terawatt-class lasers, and tunable wavelength lasers.

The lasers we produce for the industry are used in a wide variety of fields. For instance, in the electronics industry, they are instrumental in manufacturing very small electronic components that require high processing precision. Industrial lasers are designed to be very reliable and can operate non-stop for a long time.

We also produce powerful ultrashort pulse lasers for fundamental research. These lasers emit optical pulses that are ultrashort – in the domain of quadrillionths of a second – and are of very high intensity – we’re talking terawatts and petawatts. They are not meant for a scientist’s office but for big research centres and allow us to accelerate particles to observe, for instance, what processes might have occurred straight after the Big Bang.

Then there are tunable wavelength lasers. Usually, a laser has one stable and narrow wavelength, which gives it a single colour. Colourful lasers allow for changes in wavelength. Such lasers are also used for scientific purposes, including spectroscopy, research, and making very precise measurements.

In terms of the laser as the final product we sell, these are the three main products we produce. But the greatest value of our sector is that we have an end-to-end value chain. We can take a piece of glass, make it into an optical component, put that component into a laser, which we can then place into a laser system. You can come to us with an idea, and we’ll deliver the hardware and software of a system that can make, for example, the mobile phone you produce smarter or more personalised.

With an increasing number of industries embracing laser applications, how has Lithuania’s laser sector grown in the last few years?

The compound annual growth rate of Lithuania’s laser industry was more than 16.2% between 2009 and 2021. That’s ten times the growth rate of an average industry in Europe.

And we have proven that we can continue to expand, even in turbulent times. Last year, our sales grew by 21%, amounting to 210 million EUR. Half of them were sales to industrial companies. It might not seem like a very impressive sum, but if you have a mobile phone, chances are that it has a component made by a Lithuanian laser.

What are the reasons behind this strong and steady growth?

Our laser community is very tight-knit. The majority of people – around 70%, I believe – who work in our laser companies have graduated from the Physics Faculty of Vilnius University. Over the five or so years of their studies, they all meet each other at least once. Take our optics industry – it’s populated by companies led by our former students, most of whom did their Bachelor’s or Master’s work in the same lab.

After graduating, some students stay in academia, others go into industry, but they don’t go far. For example, the Science and Technology Park of the Institute of Physics is home to over a dozen laser companies, all within a stone’s throw away from each other. Some companies in this park need help to take off, some just need an address. If a company outgrows these premises and leaves to expand somewhere else, another takes its place.

This means that we have a dynamic community that’s motivated to always move forward, and our tight industry-academia bond makes it easier for us to collaborate. If we need something – an expensive lab tool, for example – we pool our resources to acquire it and continue growing.

Where in the world can you find Lithuanian-made lasers?

You can find them on every continent except Antarctica. We export over 80% of our laser production, and 95 of the world’s 100 highest-ranking universities use our laser technologies. Our markets roughly correspond to centres of high-tech industry and science – the US, China, Germany, Japan, and South Korea are our main export destinations.

This September, we will open a demo centre at the Industrial Technology Research Institute in Taiwan. There is significant interest in Lithuanian lasers from Taiwanese high-tech companies, so this will give them an opportunity to have a closer look at our technologies. For manufacturers seeking to create next-generation products, our lasers provide a way to achieve this goal – and that’s how Lithuanian lasers enter the value chain of state-of-the-art displays, smartwatches, and other electronics. We hope that our cooperation with ITRI will allow us to further fulfil our export potential.

Lithuanian lasers are also installed in ELI – Extreme Light Infrastructure – research centres in Hungary and Czechia. Last year, you were elected Vice-Chair of the ELI ERIC General Assembly. What is ELI and why is it important?

ELI, sometimes referred to as “laser CERN”, is a consortium of countries aiming to build lasers of record-breaking power for research into fundamental physics and chemistry. Lithuania is among its founding members, along with Italy, Hungary, and Czechia, and Lithuanian companies Light Conversion and Ekspla have produced the super powerful ultrashort pulse lasers for ELI facilities.

These high-power lasers are used for particle acceleration. Particle accelerators are among the most versatile tools for all aspects of modern science – from unravelling the mysteries of the matter that constitutes the universe to producing particle beams for cancer therapy. The latter is where my own research is currently focused. ELI operates in a similar way to CERN – there are calls for applications, and scientists are allocated time slots to use these lasers for their research.

ELI is also important because it allows us to avoid constructing massive accelerators. CERN already has a 30-kilometre ring for particle acceleration; now they have plans to build a 100-kilometre underground tunnel. At ELI, we can achieve similar results with several lasers that fit into a single room.

What’s next for Lithuanian lasers?

Despite the significant expansion, there’s still much potential for growth. To fully harness it, we’re working on entering more value chains with our laser technologies.

For example, there’s the microLED technology, which is expected to dominate the new generation of display screens. These screens consist of microscopic LEDs that form individual pixels, offering superior brightness, contrast, durability, and energy efficiency. Currently, we can only manufacture microLED screens as large as a wall, and they cost a million each. If we want to make them smaller and more affordable, lasers will need to be employed. It’s impossible to arrange billions of pixels by hand or with a robot, but with a laser, it only takes one pulse.

That is just one example of lasers producing next-generation products. Regardless of how innovative and high-tech a product is, wherever there’s hardware, it’s highly likely that a laser was used to produce it. Therefore the future looks bright for lasers.

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kestutis jasiunas epic
Kestutis Jasiunas receives EPIC Lifetime Achievement Award

EPIC (European Photonics Industry Consortium) has announced Kestutis Jasiunas as the winner of the EPIC Lifetime Achievement for his outstanding contributions and leadership in the laser industry.
Jasiunas, the Chairman of the Board of EKSPLA, has led the company to become a major player in the global market for scientific picosecond lasers.

Born in 1959 and a graduate of Vilnius University, Jasiunas began his career at the Institute of Physics of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences before co-founding EKSPLA in 1992. Under his leadership, EKSPLA has developed and manufactured cutting-edge femtosecond, picosecond, and nanosecond lasers and laser systems for scientific and industrial institutions. The company occupies more than half of the global market for scientific picosecond lasers and is the only manufacturer of SFG spectrometers for studying material surfaces.

Jasiunas is an active member of the boards and councils of various engineering-technological organizations, including the Lithuanian Engineering-Technological Industry Association LINPRA and the Lithuanian Research Council. He has been awarded numerous honors, including the Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania, the National Progress Award, and various prizes.

Commenting on the award, Jasiunas said, “I am honored to receive this recognition from EPIC. EKSPLA ‘s success is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our team, and I am proud of what we have achieved together. Our goal is to continue to push the boundaries of laser technology and develop innovative solutions for our customers.”

EKSPLA, which celebrated its 30th anniversary in November 2022, was founded with the mission of developing and manufacturing picosecond lasers for scientific laboratories. Today, the company has 140 employees, 18.5 M€ in sales revenue, and subsidiaries in the USA and China, as well as a global distributor network. EKSPLA products have been recognized with numerous Lithuanian and international awards, including the Prism Awards for Photonics Innovation and the Laser Focus World Innovators Gold Award.

Jasiunas’ leadership and vision have been instrumental in EKSPLA ‘s success, and the company’s continued growth is a testament to his dedication to advancing the field of laser technology.

EPIC is the world-leading industry association that promotes the sustainable development of organizations working in the field of photonics. Its members encompass the entire value chain from LED lighting, photovoltaic solar energy, photonic integrated circuits, optical components, lasers, sensors, imaging, displays, projectors, optic fiber, and other photonic-related technologies. EPIC fosters a vibrant photonics ecosystem by maintaining a strong network and acting as a catalyst and facilitator for technological and commercial advancement. EPIC currently represents more than 800 companies across 33 countries. 

Lithuania’s laser industry from then to now

We invite you to read our newest blog article with Gediminas Raciukaitis who is president of the Lithuanian Laser Association and learn more about the laser industry.

First laser technology in Lithuania

Not a lot of people know that Lithuania had laser technology since 1966– longer than most other countries in the world. Lithuania’s laser industry can be traced back to three students who were all sent to Moscow in 1962 to study quantum electronics– and, with it, the emerging field of laser technology. They helped fire the first laser in Lithuania in 1966 and went on to found the Laser Research Center at Vilnius University and the Center for Physical Sciences and Technology – which is where I am now head of the Department of Laser Technologies. Anyone in Lithuania with anything to do with lasers has some sort of connection to at least one of these bodies, and usually to both of them. They’re only 20 kilometers apart. Commercial lasers for science have been built in Lithuania since 1983.

Laser Industry in 2022

Now in Lithuania, there are more than 50 companies manufacturing lasers or optical components for lasers. Together, they employ around 1,400 people and generate annual revenues in the region of 176 million euros.

For someone, it could seem like not a lot, but No, it’s not. But Gediminas Raciukaitis says: ”If you have a mobile phone, you can be pretty sure it contains a part that was made by Lithuanian USP lasers. For certain high-tech systems, our small country can hold its own with the U.S., China or Germany.”

Market breakthrough

Lithuania has always been a strong player in the field of scientific lasers. Right now, country is working on some of the most intense lasers in the world, as part of the Extreme Light Infrastructure (ELI) project, a European research initiative.

It’s around 15 years since the first Lithuanian companies began producing lasers and optical components expressly for the industry. Real market breakthrough was the commercialization of the USP laser. These days, we’ve a whole spectrum of manufacturers producing lasers and laser-processing machines, or optical components such as coated lenses, or optical para- metric oscillators.

OPOs are used to convert and amplify laser light. Ninety percent of all OPOs sold worldwide are made in Lithuania. There are also a number of contract manufacturers operating here– companies with laser machinery who provide high-end laser-processing services such as glass cleavage. Right now, several companies are moving into medical engineering.

Lithuania’s Flagship Product

Gediminas Raciukaitis says that if he had to choose an area, then it would be OPCPA, a technology that is used to amplify ultrashort laser pulses. Lithuanian companies have played a strong role in this field for a long time. In general, when it comes to USP lasers and their components, the country is competing on even terms with the rest of the world. For me, that’s great to see, because these are all cutting-edge technologies that will enable us to build lasers of ever-greater intensity.

Secret behind Lithuania’s success in laser technology

That sometimes it’s good to be small. It means that we all know each other personally. Most companies are spin-offs from the leading institutes, and most of the company founders and workforce are of the same age as the people from the other companies and the institutes and know each other because they all studied together. It’s very common to move from academia to industry and back again. As a result, research and development at the institutes are strongly geared toward what companies actually require. In the laser community, we all trust each other – even across company boundaries. Sure, we’re still market rivals, but companies here tend to work together rather than against one.

Article is based on the interview at Trumpf – Laser Community Magazine.

award ekspla
A Lithuanian laser product again ranks among the best

A laser developed in Lithuania has been ranked among the best photonics and laser products in the world. This year, a picosecond laser from UAB Ekspla made it to the finals of the Prism Awards.

The international jury of experts in photonics and lasers rated the picosecond laser model PT277-XIR.

An instrument for observing molecules with nano-precision

Launched just this year, the new laser is designed for researchers. According to Ekspla Chief Sales Officer Mantvydas Jašinskas: “The unique quality of this laser is its excellent specifications that bring several times greater precision to research applications compared to the technology currently available”.

This laser finds applications in microscopy, or nanoscopy to be more precise. Using the PT277-XIR, molecule formations nearly one-thousandth the thickness of a hair can be observed. When exposed to infrared light, molecules have their own unique response to the light, which is how they can be recognized. In the words of an Ekspla spokesperson: special microscopy (one that scans near-field optical microscopy, or SNOM) and laser-emitting infrared light produce an image of the molecular world with acceptable spatial resolution.

The world’s top companies covet the annual prestigious Prism Award and recognition.

This year, the jury selected 24 finalists in eight categories out of more than 100 applications from 19 countries worldwide. One of them was a laser from Lithuania: Ekspla’s adjustable wavelength laser was one of the three finalists in the laser category.

Lithuania shines bright on the world’s photonics map

Last year saw as many as two Lithuanian companies in nomination for the Prism Awards 2022: the femtosecond start-up Litilit and the laser system software developer UAB Direct Machining Control.

The Prism Awards are given annually to laser, photonics, and optics companies for their most innovative products of the year. The competition has entries from all over the globe. The awards ceremony will take place for the 15th time in 2023.

This competition is sometimes regarded as the Oscars of the photonics and laser industry, and the award ceremony is the crowning moment of the international Photonics West (US) conference and expo.

This is the second time that a laser produced by this company has been among the finalist for the awards. In 2011, Ekspla received the highest Prism Awards accolade in the scientific laser category for its NT200 laser system. So far, this has been the first and only Prism Award in the Lithuanian laser community.

The winners will be announced at a gala ceremony on 1 February 2023.

The competition recognizes companies manufacturing environmentally friendly products, addressing problems of the human race, and improving the quality of life through photonics and lasers.

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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
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
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.

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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.



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.