Lithuanian firms, ITRI to co-build femtosecond laser tech R&D center in Taiwan

Rebecca Kuo, Tainan; Willis Ke, DIGITIMES Asia 0

Credit: ITRI

Lithuania, now dominating over 80% of global supply of femtosecond laser resources, has seen 14 local enterprises in the sector collaborate with Taiwan's government-funded Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) to set up the Ultrafast Laser Technology Research and Innovation Center in southern Taiwan for the joint development of next-generation femtosecond laser processing equipment targeting both medical and industrial-grade applications. Both parties will each contribute EUR1.5 million to the new facility.

Lithuania has been developing its laser technology industry for 58 years, and continues to sustain an annual growth rate of 10-15%. In the field of ultra-fast laser sources, femtosecond lasers have shorter pulses, faster speeds, and higher energy precision. Currently, over 80% of global laser sources for the biomedical industry come from Lithuania.

Paulius Lukauskas, the representative of the Lithuanian Trade Office in Taipei, stated that the 14 companies to collaborate with ITRI are mostly leading global femtosecond laser technology developers from the Lithuanian Laser Association, including Light Conversion, Ekspla, and Eksma Optics, among others. They will combine their high-power femtosecond laser resources with ITRI's laser system integration technology to jointly develop next-generation femtosecond laser processing equipment.

Lukauskas expressed the hope that through the collaboration, Lithuania's femtosecond laser technology can expand from medical to industrial-grade applications. Moreover, the collaboration also aims to strengthen the deployments of emerging industries such as biomedicine and optoelectronic semiconductors, and complement each other's side in terms of technology, talent, products, and application markets, so as to jointly develop high-value laser applications and create mutual industrial benefits.

The Ultrafast Laser Technology Research and Innovation Center, located at ITRI's South Camp, primarily involves Lithuania providing femtosecond laser sources and optical components, while ITRI is responsible for designing and building the femtosecond laser testing platform and system integration. The platform will offer a one-stop processing and technical services that include femtosecond laser light sources and components, digital optics, collaborative research promotion, and testing and verification, which will further accelerate the development of the ultrafast laser application market in Taiwan, according to Chiou Chyou-Huey, director general of the Department of Industrial Technology under the Ministry of Economic Affairs, which governs the ITRI.

Chiou noted that femtosecond lasers are highly suitable for applications in precision medicine and ultra-precision manufacturing industries. Taiwan's laser development has mainly focused on high-energy lasers that primarily employ material ablation techniques for drilling holes in materials like glass and silicon. However, as femtosecond laser technology does not damage the surface, it is ideal for applications in dermatology, ophthalmology, and urological surgery, where deep treatment can be achieved without surface damage. Additionally, femtosecond lasers are also highly suitable for ultra-precision processing in the printed circuit board (PCB) industry.

Currently, the majority of Taiwan's ultrafast laser medical and beauty equipment is mainly supplied by makers in Europe and the US. If Taiwan can collaborate internationally to develop femtosecond laser surgical equipment and ultra-precision femtosecond laser equipment for industrial use, there will be substantial business opportunities from the fields of optoelectronic semiconductors, medical materials, and communications.

Industry insiders believe that femtosecond laser technology is crucial for the long-term development of advanced processing and production efficiency. The cooperation between Lithuania and Taiwan is expected to help expand the latter's capabilities in laser-related technology and enhance precision laser processing technology for key components in the machinery industry, while industries such as electric vehicles, communications, medical materials, and optoelectronics may also expand their applications into the laser market through the collaboration.