Lithuanian laser researchers climb to the global market top
Scientific laser research in Lithuania was started in the seventh decade of the last century. Due to the intensive research activities performed by scientists of Vilnius University and the Institute of Physics, Lithuania now is one of the largest exporters of specific laser systems in the world. At present in the country there are over 10 companies engaged in production of lasers and laser systems based on own research which export production with the turnover of about € 20 million a year. 80% of laser production is exported to the international market.
Lithuanian laser researchers have developed a few unique light sources and start performing applied laser research in the field of industrial laser systems. Qualification and experience of specialists guarantees development of laser products of the highest quality to the international market.
Laser manufacturing sector of Lithuania shows a 15–20% growth per year. Lithuania exports its laser products to 100 world countries, among which there are the largest EU, USA and Japanese laboratories and research centers.
„Ðviesos konversija“ – the leader in the field of innovations
Since its establishment in the year 1995 UAB MGF „Ðviesos konversija“ (Light Conversion in English) is putting in a lot of efforts for development of innovative laser systems and their components with big added value which are competitive in the global market. Company’s position in the field of development and manufacturing of femtosecond parametric light amplifiers is especially strong - sales of „TOPAS“ series products covers app. 80% of global market of such devices.
Recently, a new product has been introduced on the market by„Ðviesos konversija“: an advanced diode pumped laser „PHAROS“ that is a new generation femtosecond laser system of which certain technical parameters are significantly superior to that of Ti:sapphire femtosecond systems currently dominating in the market. This opens new, much wider possibilities for femtosecond laser application in fundamental research, industry, medicine, communications, etc.
„With reference to the mentioned achievements general company strategy directions have been formed. The main core of this strategy is the development of new devices and modifications of already existing company products for applications in industry and biomedicine seeking to enter the new laser market segments. We are also expanding sales scope and geography applying effective methods of marketing and information dissemination. And, of course, we are permanently working on improving of product reliability and their convenience for users employing advanced engineering and production methods,“ deputy director of UAB MGF „Ðviesos konversija“ Dr. Donatas Podënas emphasizes.
Innovative nature of company activities is determined by company structure, personnel qualification, strategy and objectives of „Ðviesos konversija“. Company has established subdivisions for new product development containing advanced scientific facilities, modern divisions for device prototype production. A quite big share of company personnel consists of productive researchers with degrees in science. On the other hand, the necessity of innovative company activities is determined by a fast developing market of modern industrial and medical technologies. Interaction between laser equipment and its users can be considered as mutual. After development of new laser light sources with better parameters, their new application possibilities raise new requirements for laser producers. Thereby a continuous process of innovative product development is realized.
Within last 3 years company has introduced to the market a number of new products. First of all, it is diode-pump femtosecond laser system „PHAROS“ developed on the basis of ytterbium doped active elements that provides users with the highest power and flexibility in operation regimes with reference to other commercial lasers of this type in the market.
Another laser product is a compact femtosecond pulse oscillator featuring the shortest pulsewidth among commercial lasers.
In addition, several new devices of the series “TOPAS” were introduced to the market. „TOPAS C“ is a parametric amplifier that uses a broad-band supercontinuum radiation as a seed that can be characterized as the excellent stability spatial and temporal parameter of output radiation.
„HE-TOPAS“ is a modification of parametric light amplifier for generation of continuously wavelength tunable pulses with high energy (of several millijoules). „TOPAS-White“ is a parametric amplifier providing generation of especially short pulses (~ 10 fs) tunable in ultraviolet, visible and infrared wavelength range. „Opera Solo“ is a parametric light amplifier of special design adapted to femtosecond systems of world leading laser manufacturer “Coherent ”.
In the year 2005 „Ðviesos konversija“ in cooperation with its partners – Lithuanian laser sector enterprises – founded company „Fotonikos pardavimø plëtros valdymas“ (Photonics Sales Development Management) which is engaged in marketing of production of founder companies, organization of their participation in international exhibitions, provision of services in the field of product design, preparation of information material. In addition, in the recent years „Ðviesos konversija“ has concluded representation and cooperation agreements with the most famous world’s laser companies: „Spectra Physics“, „Clark-MXR“, „Coherent“, „Thales“. It has apparently positive impact on sales of company production. „Ðviesos konversija“ has also established computerized management processing centers that create new opportunities for fast changes in products arrangement and improvement of their design.
Innovative activities of „Ðviesos konversija“ in recent years strengthened company’s positions on the laser market. It has to be noted that leading laser companies, such as “Coherent“ and „Spectra Physics“, suspended the production of their own parametric light amplifiers and replaced them with “TOPAS” series products used in their laser systems. We have to mention that one of the most important diode-pump laser system components – pump modules – are patented by „Ðviesos konversija“. In addition, most company’s product safety standards have been adjusted according to the appropriate EU directives,“ D. Podënas stated. In addition, we have accomplished the procedures of laser equipment conformity to safety standards according to EU directives for the majority of company products,“ D. Podënas stated.
Number of countries, whose companies or scientific institutions are buying company production, steadily grows: currently registered buyers are from more than 30 European, North and South American, Asian, Australian, African countries. The new especially clean workplaces for assembling of laser or their subunits have been equipped in laser production facilities that allow to significantly improve the product quality, decrease the production costs, increase of work efficiency. Innovative activities of the company conditioned the significant increase in turnover of the previous year, growth of export. In the year 2007 company was awarded with the prize of the Lithuanian Confederation of Industrialists „Lithuanian Exporter of the Year 2007“. In addition, the company has been granted a prize for innovations in the category of products in the year 2006, and a prize for innovations in the category of companies in 2008.
„Altechna“ has started solar cells processing
Strong Lithuanian laser developers who have operated in the market of scientific research introduced innovations fast and develop production both for academic research, and industry. One of such Lithuanian companies – UAB „Altechna“ established in Vilnius in the year 1996 – started its activities from production and trading in optical laser components. Currently the company engineers and physicists are implementing one more project – they are preparing to introduce femtosecond microfabrication workstation to the market.
„We offer the market technological solutions which are necessary laser processing of final objects We actively reorient towards development of laser products for industry. Till now we have supplied laser components for scientific research. Now we are developing a new product – femtosecond microprocessing workstations. It will allow us offering an exceptional product for manufacturers and increasing the company’s turnover. If you sell the whole car and not only a lamp for it, you earn much more,“ director of „Altechna“ Dr. Gintas Ðlekys acknowledges.
Production of femtosecond lasers for industry takes just its first steps, and the field of application is very wide. „Altechna“ is one of a few companies which operate in the laser application industry. Another company situated in Vilnius –„Light conversion“ (UAB MGF Ðviesos Konversija is official Lithuanian name) – produces these lasers.
„When next to you there are such producers as private company „ Light conversion “ which we are actively cooperating with, it would be unreasonable not to use the possibility to develop additional solutions for femtosecond lasers. Development of innovations is really fast in this field. Not long ago femtosecond lasers took half of a room, now their size is of a bag. I emphasize that active cooperation and consolidation of Lithuanian laser specialists is the only way to anchor on the top of the world laser market. It is essential to pull together,” Dr. G. Ðlekys says.
Currently „Altechna“ has 25 employees, the company turnover amount reached EUR 1.6 million in the year 2008. The most part of production (90%) is exported to EU, USA, Japan and other countries. The company is a great example of socially responsible business –large investments are made into not only training of company specialists, but also into support of physics students. More than a half of the company’s employees are students studying in the Division of Quantum Electronic of Vilnius University. Dr. G. Ðlekys states that „Altechna“ may offer not only laser technologies developed by it, but also experimental researches which demonstrate for foreign clients possibilities of application of ultrashort pulses in laser application industry, too. The company also intensively cooperates with East European laser researchers, and may help Western companies to establish contacts with Russian and CIS laser specialists.
A project of manufacturing microworkstations is not the only field of innovations. According to laser expert Dr. Vidas Kabelka the direction of breakthrough of Lithuanian laser industry may become solar energetics – solar cells research, developments, innovations and manufacturing. For this purpose there are all necessary conditions in the country – the company „Anykðèiø kvarcas“ is capable to produce silicon of high quality, and there may be produced solar cells with the help of technologies developed by laser specialists. For example, at the Institute of Physics different investigations of solar cells are performed.
„The market of solar energetics and its perspectives are huge, there is much investment means. I believe that we shall consistently carry out research in this area and implement the research results in production process; Lithuania may become one of the leaders in manufacturing of solar cells. Even in the conservative Vatican with the blessing of the Pope Benedict XVI in November 2008 a solar power-plant of 221.59 kW was installed. I have no doubts that in the nearest future large part of the world’s electricity will be produced from renewable power sources“, Dr. V. Kabelka talks about innovations.
„Ekspla“ develops exceptional products
The largest laser producer in Lithuania – UAB „Ekspla“ – has been producing and selling scientific and industrial lasers and their components already for 15 years. It is a unique case, where a purely Lithuanian trademark is propagated widely and for such a long time. Practically all manufactured production – more than 94% - is exported.
At present the company offers the following groups of products to its clients:
The largest share of the company’s production consists of scientific lasers and their systems. General needs of scientific institutions are special and unique laser parameters which allow using the company’s lasers as laser radiation sources in scientific experiments seeking for successful results. Laser application possibilities in scientific fields vary very much. They are applied in almost all scientific fields: physics, chemistry, biology.
The main company’s markets are Europe, USA, Japan, and China. Seeking to avoid negative market tendencies, the company is constantly searching for new markets, e.g.: ecology, laser processing of materials. Laser developers of UAB „Ekspla“ are well-known scientific laboratories, institutes and research centers: IBM (USA), NASA (USA), University of California Berkeley (USA), University of California Davis (USA), Japanese Nuclear Research Center (Japan), Mitsubishi Research Center (Japan), Hitachi Research Centre (Japan), Rezerford Laboratories (United Kingdom), Max Planck Institute (Germany), National Research Centre (France), National Research Centre (Italy) and many other.
Today the company covers more than 70% of the market of scientific picosecond lasers. Since the very start in production „Ekspla“ has been the only producer of sum-frequency spectrometers in the whole world.
„We are glad that lasers sold by us are fully Lithuanian products – more than 75 % of the equipment of solid lasers is created in Lithuania. „Ekspla“ has accumulated long-term experience in the area of production of unique scientific laser products. A share of manufactured products is standardized; however standard specifications are often supplemented with special parameters. Therefore manufactured production requires constant scientific research and technological development,” commercial director of UAB „Ekspla“ Dr. Zenonas Kuprionis states.
The intensive scientific innovative activities are constantly performed. „Ekspla“ is associated with different laser and system designs and production. Successful development of the company is directly related to successful scientific laser specialist activities in Vilnius. Their inventions and ideas are commercialized applying them in production of new company products and development of available solutions.
Within the last 3 years eight innovative solid state diode pumped laser products for laser processing of materials were developed and introduced to the market, new innovation management methods are introduced. App. 7% of sales income per year is allocated to the development and improvement of new products by the company.
Other Lithuanian laser manufacturers are private companies „Optida“, „Standa“ which currently expand their activities in Southeastern Asia and other states of the world.
It seems that Lithuanian laser researchers become the strong players in the field of high technologies.
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