Lithuanian lasers – the country business card abroad
“Lithuanian lasers have already become our country’s business card abroad” – said the head of the Lithuanian Agency for Science, Innovation and Technology (MITA) Kęstutis Šetkus during the presentation of the Lithuanian laser sector to media representatives, emphasizing the contribution of this industry sector to raising the awareness of Lithuania in the world. According to the Executive Director of Lithuanian laser association dr. Petras Balkevičius, Lithuanian laser technology companies are undergoing golden years now and this statement is reasonably true, knowing the annual growth of this sector which reaches even 10-20%.
It’s been passed over than 60 years since 1953 when dr. Charles Townes, dr. James P. Gordon with the colleagues from University of Columbia created the first laser also when the solid-state ruby laser for semiconductor research has been installed and released at Vilnius University Semiconductor Physics Department in 1966. The Lithuanian scientists have intensively collaborated on improving the laser and its properties in industry, medicine and other fields and there were 40 laser technology companies founded in Lithuania during this period whose efforts for the targeted activity are currently being organized by Lithuanian laser association also the Science and Technology Park of Institute of Physics (FIMTP) was founded in 2010 as one of the providers of support for young and developing companies that are working in photonics field. FIMTP is the coordinator of Laser & Engineering technologies cluster (LITEK™) which unites 16 technological companies. During the laser development period Lithuanian laser technology companies sold abroad more than 5,000 lasers, at least 90 of the world ranked TOP100 universities use lasers developed in Lithuania. A significant transnational projects were also implemented. One of them is ELI where JCS “EKSPLA”, in cooperation with the US laser technology company “National Energetics”, has created the world’s largest laser ELI Beam Lines L4 which is installed in the European research complex in Czech Republic. The level of laser / laser system development in the world is so high that, according to the director of Lithuanian laser association dr. Petras Balkevičius, at the moment it is important for a laser technology company to compete in the international market not in creation of laser, but to improve the functions of the laser, for example, it is possible more effectively grind glass, engrave, perform metal drilling works or produce the Christmas crib for the Pope which is so small that can fit into the needle hole.