CURRENT AFFAIRS

FOREWORD

Lithuania, with an impressive track record in laser manufacturing and innovative academic laser science, is a world leader in laser technologies. The strong cohesion between R&D activities in laser companies and academic research centers enables Lithuania as a major-league player in global marketplace. Scientific research started in academia has resulted in an impressive number of scientific breakthroughs and important commercial developments, such as OPCPA technology and TW femtosecond lasers that are currently pushing the frontiers of attosecond science.

The output of Lithuanian laser industry covers a variety of fs/ps/ns tunable lasers, optical, electronic, mechanical laser components, assemblies, parts or different combinations thereof. Among the large number of customers there are European extreme light infrastructure centers as ELI-DC pillars in Hungary and Czech Republic, along with most of the best universities in the world (90 out of worlds' top 100).

Fundamental and applied research of laser physics in Lithuania began to sprout up more than five decades ago, i.e. not long after the first laser was created by US physicist Theodore Maiman in 1960. While developing this new direction of physics in Lithuania, tunable wavelength picosecond and femtosecond optical parametric amplifiers were created, original ultrafast spectroscopy methods and techniques were developed. Of particular importance has become an invention of Optical Parametric Chirped Pulse Amplification (OPCPA) technology at Vilnius University in 1992. Together with CPA technology, OPCPA opens revolutionary possibilities to boost laser light to extreme intensities that were deemed to be impossible.

The last five years have been truly impressive for the industry. The sales of the sector have grown nearly twice – from EUR 46,5 million in 2011 to over EUR 90 million in 2016. The major part of production, over 90%, is exported. Ten years ago, laser sector consisted of 10 companies, whereas in 2017 the count exceeded 30, employing over 800 people, among which almost 10% have PhD degrees. Although the entire industry was previously focused on the scientific laser niche, rapidly growing activities in laser material processing and improvements in laser technology allowed Lithuanian laser products to enter the industrial market, where nearly a half of total sales is currently taking place. Lithuanian laser products have even secured a reputation to warrant the applications by space exploration agencies.

In Lithuania, laser technology is among the four prioritized smart specializations of H2020. Following an official invitation, Lithuania is in a preparatory stage to become a member of ELI-DC AISBL. Recently Vilnius University Laser Research Center, which is a member of Laserlab-Europe, has developed 4 TW 1 kHz fs laser system "Naglis" which is a feasible platform for experiments on attosecond science and simulation of anticipated ELI-related systems at front-end level. Initial training and teaching of ELI personnel is also mutually beneficial.

By founding distributor companies abroad, the industry seeks to strengthen their positions in the global market. Lithuanian enterprises have a broad network of distributors and representatives over the world, as well as permanent presence at international exhibitions. We invite companies from across the world to integrate our laser products in their technologies and services.

WORLD SALES OF LITHUANIAN LASERS,
LASER EQUIPMENT AND COMPONENTS

LITHUANIAN LASER INDUSTRY:
GROWTH INDICATORS

One of the key factors in success of Lithuanian laser industry is the tight collaboration of researchers in scientific institutions and engineers in laser companies. It gives rise to a dynamic and constantly expanding laser ecosystem.

The products of Lithuanian laser sector are extremely diverse. It involves different lasers, optical, electronic, mechanical laser components, assemblies, parts or combinations thereof.

Lithuanian laser sector started more than 30 years ago and was initially focused on the scientific laser niche. In the past decade, it has made a concerted effort to gain a foothold in the industrial laser market, a market that exceeds that of thescientific lasers by an order of magnitude (Laser Focus World, January 2017, Annual Laser Market Review & Forecast). Efforts are bearing fruit: in 2016, nearly the half of all sales took place in this industrial market. However, fundamental research market remains important: laser products from Lithuania are in a great request by 90 out of 100 top universities in the world (QS ranking).

All the pioneering Lithuanian laser companies and most of the recently founded ones have been established by private initiatives, without foreign investment or direct government support. Initially, they only tapped the scientific potential accumulated within the country, whereas currently the collaboration ties have also been forged with foreign universities. In the quarter century of Lithuania as an independent state, the national added value chain has developed: ideas of new products born in research labs propagate through the manufacturing chain all the way to the wide network of distributor and service branches all over the globe.

In 2016, the sales volume of Lithuanian laser industry has reached EUR 90 million. The average yearly growth is more than 10% a year. The projections show the same growth in the coming few years.

Growth in laser industry sales
(million EUR)

The export of Lithuanian laser industry is constantly 80% of the total production volume; in 2016, the export of this sector exceeded 85%.

Lithuanian laser products are sold in all continents (except Antarctica) with nearly half of the sales taking place in Europe.

Export distribution by continent (%)

At the start of 2017, the laser industry of the country employed 835 people. Almost every tenth employee has a PhD degree.

Job growth

LASER TECHNOLOGIES IN LITHUANIA.
ECOSYSTEM

Institute of Applied Research Integrated Fiber Optics ATO ID Direct Machining Control Oriental Technology Solutions Optogama Holtida Kaunas Technology University Center for Physical Sciences and Technology Vilnius University Semiconductor Physics Departament Quantum Electronics Departament & Laser Reaserch Center National Cancer Institute Institute of Materials Science Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Design Vytautas Magnus University The General Jonas Žemaitis Military Academy of Lithuania Vilnius Gediminas Technical University Departament of Molecular Compaud Physics Departament of Optoelectronics Departament of Laser Technologies Light Conversion Ekspla Integrated Optics Quantum Light Instruments Workshop of Photonics Elas Evana Technologies Femtika Optida Optinės dangos Optonas Sprana Luvitera Teravil Lidaris Optronika GEOLA Brolis Semiconductors Aštuonetas Lifodas Standa Optoteka Altechna Eksma

LASER RESEARCH IN LITHUANIA

Laser science and technology in Lithuania started its journey almost 50 years ago, just a few years after lasers were invented. Currently, lasers have become ubiquitous in a wide range of research and development areas, from laser physics and optical technologies, all the way to laser biomedicine.

The following R&D directions were pursued in the past decades:

  1. Research of laser-matter interaction search for the new ways of generating coherent light using laser radiation.
  2. Search for new materials to be modified and processed using lasers; applications of such materials in electronics, photovoltaics, photonics, biomedicine and automotive industry.
  3. Research of active laser media and mode-locking techniques in order to generate picosecond and femtosecond laser pulses; development of new generation of lasers featuring high average power, high pulse energy, high pulse repetition rate. Development of solid-state and fiber lasers for science and industry.
  4. Investigation of parametric light amplification phenomena in transparent media (including conical waves) and development of widely tunable laser sources. Generation of optical harmonics in high power laser systems.
  5. Research of factors influencing resistance of optical materials to the damage induced by laser radiation; development of standardized diagnostics and characterization techniques for laser components.
  6. Studies of interactions of ultrashort laser pulses with matter in order to develop efficient technologies for sub-micron (nanometer) scale material processing and programmable property control. These studies include the applications of femtosecond pulses for the fabrication of functional structures for photonics and medicine using two-photon photopolymerization technique, and laser micro-machining of materials.
  7. Research of ultrafast energy transfer and relaxation processes in semiconductor structures and organic compounds; development of new methods and equipment for ultrafast spectroscopy.
  8. Generation of microwave (terahertz) radiation in semiconductor structures using femtosecond laser excitation; development of new and efficient security and imaging technologies.
  9. Development of new methods of medical diagnostics and therapy using cutting-edge laser technologies, including prevention and treatment of oncological diseases by photodynamic therapy and vision correction using femtosecond UV laser sources.

The list of Lithuanian scientific institutions involved in laser technologies and their brief descriptions are given in the Annex.

RESEARCH HIGHLIGHTS

Two main players in laser-related research in Lithuania are Vilnius University Laser Research Centre and the Center for Physical Sciences and Technology (abbreviated FTMC in Lithuanian). They are accompanied by research labs of laser companies, who are becoming more and more versatile and capable. In the further sub-sections, the recent research highlights from all these institutions are presented.

VILNIUS UNIVERSITY

Paving the way for laser companies to become suppliers of large scale laser facilities. The quest for higher laser pulse energies, more powerful and stable laser systems was always at the heart of the laser-related research performed at Vilnius University Laser Research Center. The latest development – high average power laser system Naglis was designed and built at the labs of Vilnius University over the period of 2005-2012. Its development harnessed optical chirped pulse amplification (OPCPA) technique – a brainchild of the scientists of Vilnius University. Building the laser system with unprecedented parameters was itself a formidable task, with no less than 5 PhD theses defended on the subjects of operating and managing the highest laser powers achievable using table-top systems. However, the results of the project reach far beyond the academic interest: Naglis became the prototype of the SYLOS laser system produced jointly by two Lithuanian laser companies, Ekspla and Light Conversion, for ELI-ALPS. The graduates of Vilnius University, now working at Light Conversion and Ekspla used the skills and techniques developed during their graduate work to produce this 'big brother' of Naglis. In the meantime, the 'little brother' has become a workhorse used for moderate-to-high energy experiments in laser physics at Vilnius University.

Building bridges between laser physics, medicine and nanotechnology. Nanophotonics Lab at Vilnius University Laser Research Center is researching artificial biomimetic scaffolds for cell growth. These microarchitectured structures are produced using direct laser writing (DLW) technology based on multi-photon polymerization (MPP). They are designed to become the habitats for cell cultures. By changing the structure of the scaffold, which is easily allowed by DLWMPP technique, optimal conditions for different types of cells can be created. Such engineered tissues made of bio-polymer and recipient cells could then be used in the manufacturing of individually adapted prosthetic devices, such as replacement joints, heart valves, stents, etc. The tricky part is not only making the scaffolds, where the required type of cells could preferentially be cultivated, but also finding bio-compatible and biodegradable photopolymers that would harmlessly dissolve in the recipient's body without adverse effects. Vilnius University group led by Dr. Mangirdas Malinauskas was the first to demonstrate that artificial cartilage tissues, grown on the scaffolds produced by DLW 3D lithography, can be used for pre-clinical tests in vivo. In many cases, the response of test animals to the cell pre-grown artificial tissue was better than to the standard collagen-based cartilage replacements. Another advantage over collagen is the fact that mechanical properties of such tissues can be varied tuning the material, microarchitecture and filling ratio of the structure in significantly greater range - from elastic to bone-hard.

Scaffolds for cell growth produced using direct laser writing technique
out of hybrid organic-inorganic polymer SZ2080.

In vivo tests of implanted artificial tissues based on cell laden microstructured scaffolds.

Microstructures produced by direct laser writing.

CENTER FOR PHYSICAL SCIENCES AND TECHNOLOGY

New technologies for laser-induced electroless copper plating for MID. Molded interconnect devices (MID) offer the material, weight and cost saving by integration electronic circuits directly into polymeric components used in automotive and consumer products. A new technology for the production of circuit traces, called Selective Surface Activation Induced by Laser (SSAIL) was developed at the Center for Physical Sciences and Technology (FTMC) during the implementation of FP7 APPOLO project. This new technique for selective surface plating can be applied to conventional plastics without any special additives, reducing material cost up to 3.5 times. This reduces the processing cost at least three times compared to the current technologies used in the electronics industry. SSAIL is a 3-step process. The first step is surface modification by laser, second – chemical activation of modified areas and the last step is metal deposition by electroless plating. This new technology has very high laser writing speed (up to 4 m/s). Therefore, spatial plating pitch is kept narrow as 25 µm. This new technique reduces the production cost of circuit traces for MID.50% of all laser-related R&D funding in Lithuania.

Conductive tracks for a glovebox cover touch button demonstrator,
using polypropylene doped with multiwall carbon nanotubes.

Optimization of laser induced damage threshold (LIDT) in chirped mirrors. The main limiting factor for higher LIDT values is the intrinsic damage threshold high refractive index (H) material and/or H-L layer interface. Optimization by redistribution of electric field in chirped mirror coatings can lead to increased resistance to laser irradiation by at least a factor of 2. Further layer design optimization of electric field by reallocating electric field maxima on low refractive index (L) material layers is, most likely, possible as damage occurred only on H layers. Suggested CM design improvement could increase the reliability and LIDT performance of both CM elements and high power laser systems they are used in.

Pulse multiplexing and beam combining of four pulsed Yb-doped fiber lasers by non-collinear frequency up-conversion in an LBO crystal was demonstrated experimentally. An overall conversion efficiency of 51% and up to 29 W average power in a combined 532 nm beam were achieved. These results correspond to an improvement by a factor of 2 compared to the average power extracted from a single fiber amplifier. The second-order nonlinear interaction is a process without quantum defect, so the only channel for heat deposition is absorption, which is very low for LBO crystals, permiting upscaling the method to multi kW range.

Compact femtosecond tunable optical parametric chirped pulse amplification (OPCPA) system with a picosecond allin-fiber seed laser and a picosecond DPSS pump laser was developed. A novel OPCPA front-end was constructed using a multi-channel picosecond all-in-fiber source for seeding DPSS pump laser and white light supercontinuum generation. Broadband chirped pulses were parametrically amplified up to 1 mJ energy and compressed to less than 40 fs duration. Pulse wavelength tunability in the range from 680 nm to 930 nm was experimentally demonstrated.

Microring resonator with an integrated one-dimensional photonic crystal on a silicon-on-insulator platform was designed and fabricated with its applicability in bulk refractive index sensing. The photonic crystal was formed by periodically patterned, partially etched cylindrical perforations. The microring operates in both air and dielectric bands, and higher field localization inside the perforations for the air band mode leads to an increase in sensitivity.

RFID antena fabricated on undoped ABS

Laser cutting of glass with asymmetrical Bessel beam.Conventional processing tools of glass are facing serious challenges in terms of processing speed and quality. While most of the modern laser processing is dedicated for thin, especially chemically strengthened glass, there is still a need for a suitable processing technique for thick glasses. One of the most material-efficient and energy-efficient glass cutting techniques is to locally weaken the material along the cutting path by generating cracks or material modifications and then separate sheets by applying thermal or mechanical load. Bessel beams have very appealing properties for the processing of transparent materials, such as the long non-diffractive propagation length and self-reconstruction. We have demonstrated the possibility to cut glasses up to 5 mm thickness by applying Bessel beam induced modifications. The cutting process offer high cutting efficiency.

Intensity distribution in the XZ plane of the Bessel beam
and cleaved glass sample with laser-induced single-shot modification.

Gold nanoparticles arranged in concentric arrays using Bessel beams of light.

Electron micrographo of microstructure machined in glass using lasers.

LASER COMPANIES

Building lasers for frontier science. ELI is a European Union funded project for creating centers of advanced laser technology, which are beyond financial power of individual universities or research institutions. EKSPLA is participating in two ELI projects, namely in ELI-Beamlines and ELI-ALPS.

ELI-Beamlines project is anticipating creation of four laser systems and infrastructure for research in field of plasma physics. Two Terawatt class systems are designed and build by Czech scientists, one Petawatt class laser system is delivered by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and the fourth 10 Petawatt class system Beamlines-L4 build by consortium National Energetics and EKSPLA. The design of the system is based on Texas Petawatt (Texas University, Austin) system experience where two technologies make the foundation of the entire system. The first technique, first proposed by the scientists of Vilnius University, is optical parametric chirped pulse amplification (OPCPA) where femtosecond pulses are stretched in time and amplified while controlling the spectral width and signal contrast. The second technology is a well-known workhorse used in other laser systems. Light pulse amplification occurs in large aperture disc amplifiers pumped by flash lamps. The main difference of the Beamlines-L4 system from the other flash lamp pumped disc amplifiers is in innovative disc amplifier design allowing high (for such class of lasers) pulse repetition rate of 1 shot per minute.

EKSPLA's part of this project is the design and construction of pump lasers delivering temporally shaped pulses for the OPCPA stages, allowing the amplification of optical pulses with broad spectral bandwidth.

ELI-ALPS assumes creation of a center of ultrashort light sources accessible to the international scientific community user groups. Laser driven secondary sources emitting coherent extreme-ultraviolet (XUV) and X-ray radiation compressed to attosecond duration pulses is a major research initiative of the infrastructure. ELI-ALPS sources parameters will include

  • Few-cycle pulses, from the terahertz/infrared up to the petahertz/ultraviolet, with impressive 10 Hz to 100 kHz repetition rates;
  • Attosecond extreme-ultraviolet, soft and hard x-ray mJ pulses with a 10 Hz - 100 kHz repetition rates;
  • Sub-femtosecond hard x-ray pulses upto 10 keV photon energy and controlled ultra-relativistic pulse shapes with ultra-high contrast with 1Hz repetition rate;
  • Controlled ultra-relativistic pulse shapes with ultrahigh contrast at a few Hz repetition rate;
  • Precise synchronization of the above light sources.

EKSPLA and Light Conversion are building a terawatt class laser for ELI-ALPS project system SYLOS operating at 1 kHz repetition rate and delivering light pulses of 10 femtoseconds. The system design is based entirely on OPCPA technology developed at Vilnius University Laser Research Centre. A femtosecond seed light pulse stretched in time is amplified in a cascade of parametric amplifiers. For this laser, EKSPLA is designing the pump source for the parametric amplifiers whereas Light Conversion manufactured the seed laser source of femtosecond pulses, high-energy optical parametric amplifiers, and the equipment controlling the pulse duration and bandwidth, and monitoring the output parameters.

As of 2016, the project is at its final stage. The operational system was presented to the customers at the manufacturer's facilities. The demonstrated parameters are the pulse duration of 9 fs, pulse energy 43 mJ, the spectrum centered at 820 nm and carrier-envelope phase stability of 240 mrad over 1 hour period. The pulse repetition rate is 1 kHz. After compressing the pulses to 9 fs in a vacuum compressor, the peak power of the pulses should reach 4.8 TW, which makes it the highest peak-power laser operating at 1 kHz repetition rate.

Productive negotiations with the customer in Hungary have been started about the additional contract on further expanding the capabilities of the system.

Glass-cutting technology for smartphone industry. Corning Incorporated (NYSE: GLW) and Workshop of Photonics have entered a Joint Development Agreement to work together on the development of new laser glass processing technologies. Michael Müller, Managing Director of Corning Laser Technologies, said 'the emerging opportunities for ultra-strong, ultrathin, and ultraclean glass processing solutions, along with a need for greater glass processing efficiencies, are driving the demand for laser processing technologies. We believe this strategic relationship with Workshop of Photonics will enhance our ability to deliver innovative laser processing solutions for glass.'

The patent pending technology for processing tempered glass and sapphire was developed by Workshop of Photonics. Success in smartphone industry and outpacing industry giants with the top-choice solution lead to implementing it to a hardware module that is successfully combined with femtosecond lasers in industrial applications. This prosperous agreement opens an access to the industry to overcome other existing challenges and become the desired partner in laser micromachining.

It is one of the most successful cases of intellectual property marketing of Lithuanian laser sector.

LASERLAB-EUROPE IN LITHUANIA

Vilnius University Laser Research Center (VULRC) has been a part of Laserlab-Europe since its inception in 2004. Laserlab-Europe is a network of European laser research infrastructures funded by the European Union. It brings together 33 leading organizations in laser-based inter-disciplinary research from 16 countries. Together, they foster collaboration and transfer of know-how and offer training for researchers. Joint research activities deal with the most important scientific challenges in laser research, enabling novel applications with high industrial and social impact. Research fields include biomedical and life science applications of lasers, innovative laser technologies, photonic techniques in materials science and high-intensity laser development. Laserlab-Europe is pushing the laser concepts into new directions and opening new application fields, both for the benefit of the European user community and for optical sciences and technologies as a whole.

Together with associate partners, Laserlab covers the majority of European member states. 22 facilities (including VULRC) offer access to their labs for research teams from Europe and beyond. The main objecticves of Laserlab-Europe are:

  • To promote, in a coordinated way and on a European scale, the use of advanced lasers and laser-based technologies for research and innovation,
  • To serve a cross-disciplinary user community, from academia as well as from industry, by providing transnational access to a comprehensive set of advanced laser research facilities, including two free-electron laser facilities, in a highly co-ordinated fashion,
  • To increase the European basis of human resources in the field of lasers by training new users,
  • To improve human and technical resources through technology exchange and sharing of expertise among laser experts and operators across Europe, and through coordinated Joint Research Activities enabling world-class research, innovations and applications beyond the present state-ofthe-art.

The EU-funded transnational access program enables scientists to have hands-on access to the best laboratories for their research work, wherever they might be located. This opportunity now has also become open for groups of researchers working in universities or research institutions outside the EU.

Since the start of Laserlab-Europe, VULRC has given an access for more than 100 scientists (47 projects) from 14 EU countries. The main research topics on which VULRC offers transnational access are: ultrafast nonlinear optics, femtosecond filamentation in solids and liquids, spatio-temporal characterization of light wave packets, ultrafast pump-probe spectroscopy in wide spectral range, ultrafast terahertz time domain spectroscopy, ultrashort pulse interaction with matter, multiphoton polymerization and femtosecond micromachining, and research on laser-induced damage.

Map of Laserlab-Europe IV facilities

Transnational Access is provided by Laserlab-Europe Consortium

  • to world-class laser research facilities,
  • to a large variety of inter-disciplinary research, including life sciences,
  • free of charge, including travel and accommodation.

Access is granted on the basis of scientific excellence of research proposals, reviewed by an external and independent selection panel. Priority is given to new users.

If you would like to perform your own experiments at a Laserlab-Europe facilities, including VULRC, please see www.laserlab-europe.eu

Visiting scientists from University of Sheffield (United Kingdom) with colleagues from VULRC

Visiting scientists from Braunschweig Technical University (Germany) with the researchers from VULRC

INVESTMENT IN R&D:
COSTS AND RETURNS

Investment in R&D activities is the key factor determining the competitiveness of the products manufactured by the Lithuanian laser industry. Only the products in step with the cutting-edge developments in laser science and technologies can succeed in the global market. Therefore, most of the Lithuanian laser companies invest at least 10% of revenues in their research and development infrastructure, participation in scientific projects and development of new innovative products.

Investments in R&D of Lithuanian laser companies have been consistently growing in the recent years; in 2012-2016, annual investment volume has have passed EUR 9 million mark. This is approximately twice the annual R&D investments made in the period of 2009-2012. The overall amount invested by the companies in R&D over the past five years is more than EUR 32 million.

Laser sector companies investment R&D

The main part of investments was allocated for R&D infrastructure development. Light Conversion, Ekspla, Optolita, Optida, Altechna, and Brolis Semiconductors are all carrying out large scale projects to expand their labs and industrial premises, setting up cleanrooms required for new technologies being developed.

High priority is placed on the acquisition of the newest diagnostic instruments, equipment for technological processes and production. The remaining part of investments is used for funding in-house research work, research on demand and public programs.

In the recent years, laser companies have been more actively using public funds available for R&D investments via different EU programs, Lithuanian Structural Funds, programs administered by Lithuanian agencies MITA (Agency for Science, Innovation and Technology), and LVPA (Lithuanian Business Support Agency). In 2012-2016, the companies have secured more than EUR 10 million of public funds, which accounted a quarter of the total company investments in R&D.

Sources of investment in R&D in 2012-2016 (million EUR)

Analysis of the return on investment clearly shows that the country regains invested funds rapidly and with a large profit margin to boot. There is no doubt that investment in R&D has made significant contribution to the fast growth of industrial output and created new jobs. The projections for 2014-2020 place the volume of company investments in R&D at respectable EUR 70 million.

INVESTMENT IN PARTNERSHIPS BETWEEN
RESEARCH INSTITUTIONS AND INDUSTRY

Investment in laser science and research of optical technologies is vitally important for the successful development of the Lithuanian laser industry. Projects in applied research are usually intended for the development of innovative laser equipment and the improvements of current products.

Fundamental research in laser science is equally important (and remains an imperative necessity). The research provides better understanding of physical processes important in the operation of lasers and nonlinear optical devices. It often stimulates the birth of qualitatively new commercial products and allows finding new applications for laser equipment. Finally, it provides the high-level training for the young people who later join the companies with their knowledge, ideas and skills.

The major part of research in these areas is carried out at the Laser Research Center of Vilnius University, and the Center for Physical Sciences and Technology. However, as research infrastructure builds up at the laser companies, and the number of employees with PhD degrees increases, the amount of research performed at the companies is also growing.

Investment in R&D of lasers and optical technologies is used for developing scientific and technological infrastructure, funding specific projects in applied and fundamental research, acquiring services from other industrial companies.

In 2012-2016, the total amount of investment in R&D projects and research infrastructure of scientific institutions and laser companies has been almost EUR 60 million. It must be noted, that investments of companies in R&D accounts for more than 50% of all laser-related R&D funding in Lithuania.

Investments in Laser Science and Technologies by Source of Funding in 2012-2016 (%)

R&D projects carried out in collaboration between scientific institutions and companies are very important to Lithuanian laser community. In 2012-2016, more than 70 different R&D projects were underway, with more than EUR 11 million total funding. EUR 4,6 million, was received from EU programs FP 6, FP 7, EUROSTARS, EUREKA, Lithuanian foundations and agencies MITA, LMT (the Research Council of Lithuania), LVPA research support funds; the remaining EUR 6,4 million were allocated by laser businesses.

Intelektas LT, the program carried out by the Lithuanian Business Support Agency (LVPA) has opened a range of new possibilities of business-science collaboration. Making use of this program, Altechna, Ekspla and Light Conversion, ELAS, Sprana and Brolis Semiconductors have successfully completed or are underway with several large scale projects. They are dedicated to the development of multi-functional laser platforms, laser systems for the production of solar panels, optoelectronic devices for medical applications and lasers for ophthalmic surgery and life science. The total value of these collaborative projects is EUR 2.2 million.

Collaboration between laser businesses and foreign research institutions is growing. In 2012-2016, 9 Lithuanian laser companies were (or still are) the partners of 19 international projects of FP 7, EUROSTARS and Horizont 2020 programs. Project topics cover the development of novel laser sources, application of lasers and optical techniques in nanotechnologies, biomedical research, identification of explosives or pollutants, diagnostic systems and industrial processes. The Lithuanian funding share in these projects is over EUR 4 million.

Funding of joint projects in 2012-2016

The volume of research-on-demand of laser businesses performed by research institutions in 2012-2016 was around EUR 4 million. The annual volume of such services has grown more than four times compared to the period of 2009-2013. The typical tasks of such research include the development of specialized optical coatings, feasibility studies of different types of lasers and laser components, characterization of nonlinear optical devices; improvements of diagnostic equipment, laser applications in micromachining and micro-structuring, etc.

During 5 last years funding of collaborative projects by companies and EU funds increased by 1.5 times compared to 2009-2013 period, while the financial support from Lithuanian national agencies dropped by more than 4 times and covers only 14% of the costs incurred in such project. While it may be tempting to write this off as 'technical difficulties with starting the distribution of EU funds', such lack of government attention to the development of science is borderline scandalous. Especially, it needs to be addressed with the view on the fact that the EU support will decline substantially after 2020, and a more proactive role is expected from the national science agencies.

Joint research projects are not the only form of collaboration, there are also joint workshops, exchange of research equipment, and the annual national conference Lasers: Science and Technologies (see further sections).

STUDYING IN LITHUANIA: EXPERIENCE,
OPPORTUNITIES, PROSPECTS

Lithuanian education system has been successfully training laser specialists for several decades. The science centers, where these young minds are sharpened, are known for their high competence and world-class laser research. A special place among them belongs to the Faculty of Physics of Vilnius University, where laser physicists have been studying and teaching for over 40 years.

The major in quantum electronics was first chosen by 10 freshmen in 1970 (the first laser-related research projects were performed by the students majoring in other fields already in 1971). Quantum electronics was made an official direction of research and studies in 1974, when the Department of Astronomy and Quantum Electronics was founded. In 1975, the first graduates in quantum electronics received their diplomas. In 1988, a separate Department of Quantum Electronics, now called Laser Research Centre, was formed, where laser physicists are being taught to this day. From 1975, the Laser Research Centre has graduated over 600 people in laser physics.

Currently, the Faculty of Physics offers courses on lasers starting from the bachelor level. Students can choose the subjects titled Laser Physics, Technological Applications of Lasers, Laser Technology, and Quantum Electronics.

Two master programs are dedicated to training laser specialists in Lithuania: Laser Physics and Optical Technologies, and Laser Technology. They are both managed by the Faculty of Physics. The goal of these programs is to train high level professionals able to develop and use modern laser technologies in practice. A new bachelor program "Light engineering" is currently under development. Its duration will be 3.5 years, and the students be taught the basic knowledge and practical skills required by Lithuanian laser industry and other photonic-related areas. The graduates will have a choice of joining the industry immediately after completing the program, or entering one of the master programs to further their education.

From 2007, a master program in optoelectronics is offered by Vilnius University, Faculty of Physics. The program is mainly oriented towards LED technologies and applications.

Students make use of modern teaching and research labs at Vilnius University Laser Research Center and Vilnius University Institute of Applied Research. They are encouraged to attend the workshops given by Lithuanian and foreign scientists, and the public defenses of PhD theses. The scientific quality of MSc graduation works is commendable: a significant fraction of graduates publish the results of their MSc works in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

PhD studies in laser physics are also available in Lithuania. Vilnius University Laser Research Center is home to a number of graduate students in physical and technological sciences. Laser-related PhD careers can also be pursued in other scientific centers in the country: divisions of Laser Technology and Optoelectronics at the Center for Physical Sciences and Technology, the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Vilnius Gediminas Technical University, the Institute of Material Science, the Institute of Mechatronics and the Department of Production Engineering at Kaunas Technical University.

All research centers are equipped with excellent research infrastructure, which has been funded by EU structural funds, High Technology Development Program, other international and national projects and – in some cases – by Lithuanian laser companies. Modern research equipment is used for practicums. The students participate in the international exchange programs opening access to the best research centers in the world, where their competences and training level is held in high regard.

Prof. Dr. Valdas Sirutkaitis, Prof. Dr. Mikas Vengris, Dr. Arūnas Varanavičius
with students at the University of Vilnius teaching laser laboratory

Lithuanian representative Dr. G.Račiukaitis represnting EU laser science
in EU-China meeting of laser industries organized by EPIC (2016).

LITHUANIAN LASER DIASPORA

A large number of graduates from Vilnius University and Lithuanian science institutes have found their places abroad in the world-famous laser laboratories. Many of them retain close ties with Lithuanian science and education institutions and laser companies. They give lectures and share experience visiting Vilnius University (VU) and the Center for Physical Sciences and Technology (FTMC), pursue joint development projects with laser companies and scientists using the projects of Eurostar and High Technology Development Projects, attend events held by the Lithuanian Laser Association.

The largest Lithuanian group working with high intensity ultrashort pulse lasers is headed by Prof. Andrius Baltuška at the Technical University of Vienna. This group currently hosts three Lithuanian researchers and three-four graduate students. Close collaboration ties are maintained with Lithuanian scientists and companies in the development of generators and amplifiers of femtosecond laser pulses in 2-6 μm wavelength range and researching the generation of attosecond pulses.

Another group worth mentioning is the group under the leadership of Prof. Kęstutis Staliūnas at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (Barcelona), where two to three graduate students, MSc students or post-docs from Lithuania are working. Together with groups from VU, FTMC and Lithuanian laser companies, the group is pursuing research of the application of photonic crystals for spatial filtering of laser beams.

Prof. Almantas Galvanauskas from the University of Michigan has been advising FTMC scientists on the development of fiber lasers for about fiftien years; he invites scientists and graduate students from Lithuania to work in his scientific group.

Prof. Saulius Juodkazis from Swinburne University of Technology in Australia has been collaborating with Lithuanian laser scientists and laser companies for many years. His interests include the growth of new laser materials, technological research of ultrashort pulse lasers and their applications. Two or three graduate students, MSc students or post-docs from Lithuania are always a part of his team. He is also often enlisted by different Lithuanian projects as a consultant.

The list of Lithuanian laser scientists abroad maintaining close relationships with Lithuanian scientists and companies would be incomplete without Prof. Virginijus Barzda from the University of Toronto, Prof. Valdas Pašiškevičius from the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Dr. Rimas Juškaitis from the University of Oxford, Dr. Vygandas Mizeikis from Shizuoka University in Japan, Dr. Aleksandr Ovsianikov from Vienna University of Technology, Dr. Gediminas Jonušauskas from the 1st University of Bordeaux (France), Dr. Arvydas Ruseckas from St. Andrews University in Scotland, Dr. Donatas Zigmantas from Lund University (Sweden) and many others, whose experience and knowledge in different laser-related fields add significantly to the knowledge of Lithuanian scientists and businessmen.

ANNUAL NATIONAL CONFERENCE
"LASERS: SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGIES"

Summer conferences bringing together Lithuanian laser community commenced in the last decade of the twentieth century. They have been held annually since 2009. In 2017, the thirteenth annual national conference "Lasers: science and technologies" will be organized. Each year, a number of Lithuanian laser physicists and engineer working abroad (see section Lithuanian Laser Diaspora) come and present their newest research results to Lithuanian laser community. The conference is not meant only for business: people bring their families for a social event in open air. It lasts the entire weekend with campfire songs still going strong at dawn.

The conference seems to have made a long-lasting impression of Carlos Lee, Director General EPIC - European Photonics Industry Consortium, who later wrote:

I recently presented at the 12th National Conference "Lasers: Science and Technology" and what I found most striking about this event that takes place every year on the last Friday of August is how it distinctively brings together the Lithuanian laser industry. The event was composed of a full day conference featuring an update from 20 local companies, and a panel discussion with the participation of the vice-minister of science and vice-minister of economy. The involvement of government representatives was respectable but not something unusual. What was unique about this event, and something that I have not come across anywhere else in the world, is the social aspect that brings together the entire Lithuanian laser industry. Social activities included a music concert, sauna, midnight swimming in the Bebrusai lake, songs by the Campfire (till very late in the night), numerous sports activities following morning including company team football matches… it was a complete festival! In total there were 300 employees of laser companies, 200 spouses, and 100 children. While individual companies frequently organize team-building events, I have never seen this on the scale of an industry at a national level. It was an honour and sincere pleasure to be part of it!

The scientific programme of the conference traditionally includes a number of talks presented by the members of Lithuanian laser diaspora (see previous section) representing the world's strongest laser laboratories. Other presentations are made by the leading researchers of Lithuanian scientific institutions and chief R&D people from laser companies.

DEVELOPMENT OF LASER APPLICATIONS
IN LITHUANIA

Industrial lasers

Due to their versatility and flexibility, lasers have become conventional production tools. The majority of industrial lasers in Lithuania and elsewhere are used for sheet metal cutting. They are typically powerful kilowatt systems, with powers up to 6 kW, able to cut through 20-30 mm metal sheets. In Lithuania, we count more than 60 such machines for sheet and pipe cutting. Fast, precise, and automated cutting and flexible process control have made such systems indispensable in metal processing industries. CO2 lasers that traditionally dominated this market are being superseded by more efficient fiber lasers.

High performance lasers made in Lithuania a not intended for down-to-earth macro-processing market. Taking advantage of broad expertise in the fields of photonics, Lithuania has made an important step towards industrial laser technologies. Close collaboration of laser companies with research teams at Vilnius University and Center for Physical Sciences and Technology paved the way for the development of industrial laser technologies, mainly in micro and nano-processing, utilising the benefits of ultra-short laser pulses. The knowledge gathered in joint researched projects led to the qualitatively new results in the field. New kind of companies started to grow in Lithuania with the focus on commercial implementation of laser micromachining technologies. Workshop of Photonics and Evana Technologies are working in niche applications with emerging laser technologies for processing of transparent materials, glasses and sapphire. Femtika was established to capitalize on the expertise of researchers of Laser Research Center at Vilnius University in direct laser writing (3D printing) of photopolymers. A company ELAS is acting as system integrator building complex laser machines for industrial applications. Together the with Department of Laser Technologies of FTMC, they are successfully installing laser machines into the production lines at Precizika Metrology for the fabrication of advanced highly precise measurement devices.

Visibility and trust on laser and laser technology development in Lithuania was significantly increased by FP7 project APPOLO (www.appolo-fp7.eu ) coordinated by FTMC and involving ELAS and Ekspla among the 36 partner consortium for assessment of industrial laser technologies.

Optronika offers custom laser illumination and laser shows for different events and advertisements; they design and manufacture laser projectors and other laser-based illumination sources.

Laser systems at Lithuanian research institutions

In the past five years, Lithuanian research institutions have acquired laser systems for nearly EUR 3 million. A significant part of these systems (worth EUR 0.6 million) was designed and manufactured by Lithuanian companies: Ekspla, Light Conversion, Standa, Optida, Optolita, Altechna, ELAS, etc. Local manufacturers can quickly and flexibly provide equipment, components and services required for research, which is especially important for R&D projects carried out in collaboration with research institutions. The researchers, in turn, are the first source of feedback on newly developed technologies, their first 'real world' tests and potential applications. The omnipresence of lasers throughout the labs of universities and research institutes promotes Lithuania's competitiveness in the international markets and projects the image of Lithuania as an advanced country with deep traditions in laser applications.

DEVELOPMENT OF LASER SECTOR
IN 2016-2020: MILESTONES

Continued growth can only be achieved through the long-term cooperation of business, science, and government

The dynamic growth of Lithuanian laser sector is evidenced by high-quality education programs, contributions of laser research community to large-scale international projects, and the products of laser companies exported to all the continents of the planet. The sales of Lithuanian laser industry have doubled in the past six years, with concomitant growth of the volume of taxes and salaries paid out. Lithuanian laser sector is essentially operating in the out-of-country market sonly, competing with the best in the field. Therefore, its development has to be viewed in the context of the global development of laser markets, where the annual growth rates between of ca. 5 and 10% were observed for the past five years, and are predicted the period of 2017-2022 by various sources. In the past twenty years, the laser sector of Lithuania has been growing significantly faster than the global market; its growth projections for 2016-2020 still exceed global trends.

The companies have performed admirably in the past five years, and secured their position in industrial laser markets. Collaboration with research institutions and between companies has remained the preferred form of interaction (as opposed to direct competition). The portfolio of products has expanded and their spectrum has diversified. The products that were novelties five years ago have been put in serial production, delivering hundreds of units per year. This required significant paradigm shift in management, when factories grew from small enterprises where all people knew each other to medium-sized companies with new people appearing on a monthly basis.

It is not all sunshine and rainbows though. There are also major challenges to be faced. The change of generations is approaching inevitably, with the numerous and talented people who started their careers in 1960s and 1970s about to retire. These are the very people who started the major laser companies and led them to the current state of the art. With this driving force subsiding, the new generations will have to shoulder the burden of pushing the limits of technology and competing globally.

The personnel situation is made worse by the demographic situation and emigration, with less students entering the universities each year in general, and physics and engineering in particular. Large number of students chose IT-related programs offering quicker and easier path to personal well-being. While laser-related master programs have been able to retain their numbers (mainly due to the strong reputation of laser industry as a solid employer), the general drop of student numbers is becoming a threat both for academic research and the industry. The point has been reached where the companies cannibalize the numbers of students at the universities, offering well-paid jobs and benefits to them even before they graduate. This means that most of the physics students work at the companies throughout their MSc studies and never even consider getting a PhD, which weakens the research institutions of the country.

Competition is also becoming more of an issue, fueled by the desire of the biggest world-class players in the laser market to keep their share of sales. The growth of Lithuanian laser industry has pushed it out of its comfortable niches and into the global waters. The products that had essentially no competition five-to-ten years ago, now have identical counterparts in the portfolios of foreign suppliers. Competing by prices is never a good idea in high-tech market; instead, the industry needs to continue innovation, which requires a special effort in companies, where most of the revenue is made by mass-production. It is too easy to get deceived by the idea that money-making activities must be prioritized, while the 'sandbox games' of R&D can wait, or be underfunded.

To meet these challenges, tight collaboration between the government, academia and the industry is required. The last large portion of EU structural funds must be invested wisely in the human capital, attracting the much-needed talent to physics and engineering programs, and helping the companies in their next leap of innovation. The government has to face the fact that academic personnel and graduate students need salaries at least in the same order of magnitude as the industry. Teaching of natural sciences and technological skills to the kids should be made a priority starting from the first years at school. The companies also need to realize that luring people away from the universities and institutes is only going to work so long. Mutual understanding, constant dialog and constructive collaboration between industry, academia and government is the only way forward.

LASER COMMUNITY AND SAULĖTEKIS
(SUNRISE) VALLEY: PERSPECTIVES

Laser science and industry were active participants of the new stage of R&D development in Lithuania, defined by the governmental programs of development of integrated science, studies, and business centers (valleys), approved in November 2008. Saulėtekis (Sunrise) Valley played a special role in laser development.

Historically, almost all the laser companies in Lithuania have spinned off from two strongest scientific institutions – Vilnius University Laser Research Center, located on Saulėtekio Street, and the Institute of Physics of the Center for Physical Sciences and Technology, situated on Savanorių Avenue. Most of the companies are still located next to their parent institutions, however, some new companies are scattered around the city, with a discernible third cluster formed on the intersection of Geležinio Vilko and Mokslininkų streets.

The Laser Research Center of Vilnius University received an annex where multifunctional ultrashort pulsed laser complex Naglis is located. It functions as an integral part of the High Intensity Laser Laboratory. The research staff of the complex collaborates with research centers abroad in the development of new and promising laser and optical technologies, to be industrialized by Lithuanian laser businesses. Together with standardized component testing capabilities it makes Naglis an indispensable facility for developing highly desirable optical components able to withstand huge laser beam intensities. A startup company Lidaris, located in the same building, has commercialized several lines of research developed by Laser Research Center of Vilnius University.

On Saulėtekio Street, a new building, the National Center for Physical Sciences and Technology has opened its doors in 2016. It is a home for a number of laboratories for lasers and optics, material science and nanotechnology, semiconductors and electronics. The new clean rooms offer unprecedented possibilities for research and developing new technologies and devices. At the same time, Vilnius University Life Sciences Center has moved into their new building nearby, which opened tremendous collaboration opportunities for the physicists and life scientists which they are all keen to exploit. Further down Sauletekio Street, Sunrise Valley Science and Technology Park is located, where a number of high-tech companies have started their activities. One of them is a member of laser ecosystem, Femtika.

A little further down the road, you will find the headquarters of Light Conversion Ltd. It moved here just three years ago, in 2014. Engineers and production staff were happy to finally enjoy their newly constructed building with modern manufacturing facilities and research labs. However, the growth projections turned out to be too conservative: the building has already become too small and a new annex is being constructed.

National Center for Physical Sciences and Technology,
Vilnius University Life Sciences Center and Scholarly Communication and Information Centre

National Center for Physical Sciences and Technology, home to Department of Optoelectronics (DO), Department of Molecular Compound Physics (DMCP) Vilnius University Life Sciences Center Vilnius University Laser Research Centre and its newly constructed annex - National and International Access Multifunctional Ultrashort Pulse Laser complex NAGLIS. Company Lidaris is located in the same building. Sunrise Valley Light Conversion is 4 km to the East from Laser Research Center of Vilnius University and Lidaris Sunrise Valley Science and Technology Park hosting Femtika

The program of integrated science, studies, and business center Saulėtekis also includes Sunrise Valley Technology and Innovation Center – another location in Vilnius, originally the home of the Institute of Physics of Center for Physical Sciences and Technology (FTMC). Here, for more than 30 years, business and education work hand in hand. Several divisions of the Center for Physical Sciences and Technology are still here, along with the Science and Technology Park of Institute of Physics and laser companies Ekspla, Eksma Optics, ELAS, Optida, Optonas, Teravil. Here you will also find Science and Technology Park of the Institute of Physics carrying out their highly successful project called Laser & Engineering Technologies Cluster. The Cluster has become home to an integrated dynamic chain of researchers, suppliers, manufacturers and vendors, who joined their efforts in improving global competitiveness of laser and engineering companies, exchanging expertise and developing new high added-value products.

The center holds technological training workshops forging ties between company employees and university students and organize business-targeted PhD programs. Technological and non-technological research of laser-related products and services, manufacturing processes, and supply chains is planned.

Science and Techno-logy Park of Institute of Physics Department of Laser Technologies (DLT) of Center for Physical Sciences and Technology Ekspla ELAS Eksma Optics Optida Teravil Optonas

In the spring of 2013, several laser companies have started their activities in the third area, populated by ultramodern building of Baltic Optical Disc (BOD) Group, dedicated to the experimental production of solar cells and modules and research laboratories, and Visoriai Information Technology Park. The location is on the intersection of Geležinio Vilko and Mokslininkų streets, complementing the photonics territory started by EKSMA group on Mokslininku Street back in 1988.

Eksma Eksma Optics Altechna Workshop of
Photonics
Quantum Light Instruments Sprana Optogama Direct Machining
Control
Evana Technologies

LITHUANIAN LASER COMMUNITY:
IMPORTANT EVENTS

Laser industry and research is one of the fields where Lithuania is visible on the global map. In 2017, we celebrated the 30th anniversary of showing Lithuanian lasers to the Western world: the largest European laser exhibition in Munich hosted a laser developed and manufactured by Eksma. Since then, three decades of continued efforts have yielded their fruits. In 2016 we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the first laser launch in Lithuania.

Munich, Germany 2011.
Lithuanian pavillion in Laser World of Photonics 2011

Munich, West Germany, Laser Fair 1987.
V.Mačiulis and K.Jasiūnas are demonstrating a picosecond laser in the West for the first time.

Munich, Germany 2015. Lithuanian pavillion in Laser World of Photonics 2015

  • 1978. The first international event in the field of lasers and nonlinear optics is organized in Vilnius, the 1st Vilnius International School on Laser Applications in Atomic, Molecular, and Nuclear Physics (ISLA'78). Organizers include Vilnius University, the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences, and the Institute for Spectroscopy of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Troitsk. Presentations were delivered in the form of tutorial lectures. Due to great success of this school it later became a periodic school held in Vilnius every three years. The next five schools were held in 1981 (ISLA'81), 1984 (ISLA'84), 1987 (ISLA'87), 1990 (ISLA'90), and 1993 (ISLA'93) respectively. The number of participants varied in the range of 80–100.
  • 1983. Establishment of the first laser company Eksma.
  • 1984. USSR National Conference on Non-Resonant Interactions Between Optical Radiation and Matter is held in Palanga. Organizers included the Institute of Physics (Lithuanian Academy of Sciences) and Vavilov State Optical Institute (Leningrad, currently St. Petersburg).
  • 1987. Vilnius hosts the 5th (UPS'87) International Symposium on Ultrafast Processes in Spectroscopy. UPS symposiums were organized under the auspices of the European and Lithuanian Physical Societies, Vilnius University and the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences. Scientists from widely varying fields in physics, chemistry, biology, and medicine got together to share their common interest in ultrafast processes taking place on picosecond and femtosecond time scale. The number of invited and contributed papers in those conferences was in the range of 100-120. The event returned to Vilnius six years later (UPS'93).
  • 1987. Eksma participates in their first trade fair in the West.
  • 1992. Prof. A. P. Piskarskas is awarded Alexander von Humboldt Research prize, followed by the European Physics Society prize in quantum electronics and optics in 2001.
  • 2002. Vilnius hosts the International Conference on Laser Applications in Life Sciences (LALS-2002) covering the fields of Biomedical Imaging, Laser spectroscopy, LaserTissue Interactions, Light Microscopy, organized by Vilnius University and Moscow Lomonosov University. The number of participants was about 100.
  • 2007. Two companies, Light Conversion and EKSPLA, together with the head of Quantum Electronics Department and Laser Research Center of Vilnius University Prof. A. P. Piskarskas, Light Conversion Science Director Dr. R. Danielius, Eksma executive R. Kraujalis and Ekspla executive K. Jasiunas, were awarded the National Progress Prize for the consolidation of Lithuanian laser science and industry for the breakthrough to the global markets.
  • 2009. Vilnius hosts the International Conference Northern Optics 2009 (NO 2009), the 4th conference in the Northern Optics series. The aim of the meeting was to bring together optical scientists and people from the optics industry and optics companies in the Nordic and Baltic countries. The conference was organized by the Lithuanian Physical Society including Vilnius University and the Institute of Physics (Vilnius). The number of participants was 120.
  • Laser, optics and photonics scientists receive Lithuanian Science Awards (started in 1993) every second or third year.
  • The sales volume of laser companies has been consistently growing 15-20% per year in the past decade. From EUR 12 million in 2003, they have reached more than EUR 60 million in 2013, which is more than five-fold.
  • 2011. Ekspla receives the Prism Award for Photonics Innovation, the so-called laser Oscar.
  • 2011. EU Commissioner for research, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, visits Light Conversion.
  • 2011. Optolita becomes a certified supplier for the European Space Agency.
  • 2011. The Lithuanian Center for Physical Science and Technology signs a long-term collaboration agreement with the largest Japanese research institute RIKEN.
  • 2011. Altechna is awarded the German Business Award, Responsibility for the Future.
  • 2011. Altechna receives the Swedish Business Award for the most sustainable growth.
  • 2012. Ekspla receives the Swedish Business Award for the best introduction of Lithuanian products in foreign markets, for promotion of Lithuania's name in the world.
  • 2012. Prof. A. P. Piskarskas is awarded the Baltic Assembly Prize for his pioneering research in the field of laser physics and nonlinear optics, for the development of innovative laser instruments and fruitful international collaboration in the European area and world-wide.
  • 2012. The President of the Republic of Lithuania Dalia Grybauskaitė visits Ekspla.
  • 2012. The Congress Life Sciences Baltics names the company Integrated Optics one of the most promising start-ups.
  • 23 February 2013.The Lithuanian Post issues a new postage stamp called Laser Industry in Lithuania from the series Science Breakthroughs.
  • 2013. Light Conversion receives the Lithuanian Business Leaders' Award as the most efficient company.
  • 2014. The new building of Light Conversion is opened by the President of the Republic of Lithuania Dalia Grybauskaitė.
  • 2014. Vilnius hosts the 15th International Symposium on Laser Precision Microfabrication (LPM 2014). The number of participants was about 230, making it the largest laser-related conference ever held in Lithuania. LPM is the world's number one meeting of the laser user community where the most advanced developments and recent trends in laser application for fine and precise fabrication of diverse materials are discussed among industry, research and academia representatives. The symposium provided a floor for researchers, end users of lasers and laser manufacturers to discuss the fundamental aspects of laser-matter interaction, the state-of-the-art of laser material processing, and topics for the next generation. It was organized by the Center for Physical Sciences and Technology (FTMC), Lithuania and Japan Laser Processing Society (JLPS), Japan.
  • 2014. Light Conversion received the Swedish Business Award for the sustainable growth.
  • 2015. Sunrise Valley of Technology and Innovation is opened by the President of Lithuania, Dalia Grybauskaitė. 'Our scientists have much to offer to the world in the field of high technologies. Investments in high-tech not only result in developing of progress but also create new jobs and attract foreign investment to Lithuania' the President said.
  • 2015 Sunrise Valley Technology and Innovation Centre is visited by the experts from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
  • 8 October, 2015. The Swedish royal couple - King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia accompanied by the Prime Minister Mr. Algirdas Butkevičius and his wife Jolanta Butkevičienė visit Sunrise Valley Technology and Innovation Center.
  • 2016. Corning Incorporated (NYSE: GLW) and Workshop of Photonics on February 4, have entered a Joint Development Agreement to work together on the development of new laser glass processing technologies. Michael Müller, Managing Director of Corning Laser Technologies, one of the world's leading innovators in materials science, said: "We believe this strategic relationship with Workshop of Photonics will enhance our ability to deliver innovative laser processing solutions for glass".
  • 2016. A golden €5 coin dedicated to Physics was issued by the Bank of Lithuania. The obverse of the coin features, a stylised Vytis in the centre, depicted against a background of interfering coherent light waves, surrounded by the inscription LIETUVA (Lithuania), year of issue (2016), denomination (€5), and the mintmark of the Lithuanian Mint. The reverse shows a laser beam, symbolizing laser physics.
  • 2016. The National Centre for Physical Sciences and Technology was opened. The National Centre of Physical and Technological Sciences now headquartered in a four-storey building of 27 thousand square meters in the Sunrise (Saulėtekio) Valley is the largest and most advanced base for physical, chemical sciences and technology in Lithuania and the Baltic states.
  • Thanks to the MatchBox2 Series of lasers Integrated Optics was named one of the top 3 finalists in the category of scientific lasers for the Prism Awards for Photonics Innovation.
  • 2016 The review of customer bases of Lithuanian laser companies revealed that 90 out of top 100 universities in the word use Lithuanian laser products.
  • 2016 EPIC organized in Lithuania an executive-level meeting on laser material processing. There were 65 people from 20 countries, there were a lot of presentations, company visits, networking dinners and receptions.
  • 2017. Main prize in the Vilnius Invent contest was awarded to researchers of FTMC Karolis Ratautas and Mindaugas Gedvilas for their patented laser technologies.
  • In the past three years, six new laser companies have been founded, including Ato ID, Direct Machining Control, Holtida, Integrated Fiber Optics, Optogama and Oriental Technology Solutions. Currently, the total number of companies is 30. It is also worth stressing that all the companies in the community, starting from the first one (founded in 1983), and ending with the novices (established in 2017) continue their operation successfully to this day – none have closed down.
  • EPIC 2016 meeting participants assembled in the Cathedral Square in Vilnius for an early morning jogging. The mayor of Vilnius Mr. Remigijus Šimašius (the tallest person standing in middle left) has joined the event despite the early hour – a welcome display of respect to the laser community.

Laser technologies developed in Lithuania enter space exploration programs

  • Lithuanian company Optolita, part of Eksma Group, is a manufacturer of ultraprecise optical components for the satellite developed by the European Space Agency. The satellite Aeolus dedicated to the laser-based exploration of Earth atmosphere will use optical converters manufactured from non-linear crystals and coated in Lithuania.
  • The precision mechanical components developed and manufactured by Standa, another Lithuanian company, are already in use in satellites. Many innovative solutions were required to enable their operation in nearly absolute vacuum and temperatures approaching absolute zero.
  • In 2016 Lithuanian company Lidaris, which provides professional laser damage testing services, and European Space Agency (ESA) started a two-year collaboration project ESPRESSO. The overall aim of the project is to carry out research and development work necessary to predict optic's longevity required by space programs.

Lithuanian lasers for research at highest intensities and shortest time scales

  • 2013. TW-class laser system based on OPCPA technique 10 Hz operating at repetition rate was demonstrated at the Laser Research Center of Vilnius University in A more advanced version of this system generating ∼ 1 TW peak power sub-10 fs pulses at 200-1000 Hz repetition rate and providing possibilities for cutting-edge research on laser-matter interaction at extreme light intensities is scheduled to come online at Vilnius University laser facility NAGLIS by the end of 2017.
  • Laser front end in the facility of National Energetics Inc.

  • 2014. A consortium led by National Energetics, Inc. in partnership with Ekspla was awarded a contract to develop and install an ultra-intense laser system producing 150 fs pulses with power in excess of 10 PW for the European Union's Extreme Light Infrastructure Beamlines (ELI-Beamlines) facility in the Czech Republic. In 2017, Ekspla's part was completed and shipped to the USA for further integration. The entire system is expected to be shipped to Prague by the end of 2017, where the installation should be over before the end of 2018.
  • In 2014 the consortium made of Ekspla and Light Conversion was awarded a European contract for designing and building the laser system for ELI-ALPS facility in Hungary.
  • 2017. OPCPA-based laser system that will be the core component of a unique Attosecond Light Pulse Surce at Extreme Light Infrastructure ELI-ALPS Laser Research center in Szeged, Hungary was finished and demonstrated to the customer on the manufacturer's facilities. The OPCPA system provides CEP stable sub-10 fs pulses with power of 4.5 TW at repetition rate of 1 kHz.

Laser technologies in Lithuania. 2017 PDF file