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Ultrafast laser specialist Lithium lands €2M

23 Apr 2024

Italian startup says its 'gigahertz-burst' source is also the lightest on the market for industrial micromachining.

Lithium Lasers, a startup company in northern Italy that is developing ultrashort pulse (USP) industrial lasers, says it has attracted €2 million in venture funding.

The capital infusion, courtesy of investors Primo Ventures and 360 Capital, is intended to accelerate industrialization of the firm’s “Femtoflash” source, with plans to also develop an ultraviolet version.

Three-module design
Headquartered in Rovereto, near Lake Garda, Lithium Lasers was co-founded in 2019 by CEO Alessando Greborio, who previously worked as a laser scientist at Onefive in Zurich - now part of NKT Photonics.

According to a LinkedIn post from Lithium, the new funding will help the firm on its mission to surpass the boundaries of traditional laser micromachining. “Our pioneering laser technology is more adaptable, compact, and seamlessly integrates speed and precision,” it stated.

Lithium claims that, when compared with conventional USP lasers used in industry, its sources provide twin advantages of a more compact design, as well as a significantly higher pulse repetition rate.

“In this groundbreaking technology the energy is distributed over many pulses that are clustered in bursts and the pulse frequency is increased a thousand-fold (GHz level), thereby significantly enhancing machining speed,” states the firm on its web site.

“Unlike common USP lasers for material processing that have a complex structure of at least seven modules based on chirped-pulse amplification (CPA) and multi-stage amplifiers, Femtoflash boasts a sleek industrial design consisting of just three modules: an oscillator, an acousto-optic modulator, and an amplification stage.

“At the heart of Femtoflash is our patent-pending laser architecture, based on a unique soliton mode-locked seed oscillator that emits a train of femtosecond pulses at 0.8 GHz repetition rate with the impressive average power of 5 W.”

Gigahertz bursts
Adding a single amplification stage has so far yielded a laser product offering up to 30 W of average power at 1032 nm, with a pulse duration of less than 800 femtoseconds (see data sheet for full details).

In between the near-gigahertz bursts of those laser pulses, the repetition rate reverts to a more conventional 10 MHz.

The source measures 420 x 294 x 159 mm and weighs 16 kilograms, with Lithium claiming it to be the lightest USP laser on the micromachining market, where 30 kilograms is more typical.

“Thanks to our proprietary laser architecture, Femtoflash exhibits a massively increased electrical efficiency,” adds the company. “With a power consumption of less than 500 W, Femtoflash can save up to 80 per cent more energy than other USP lasers for micromachining (which consume around 2.5 kW).”

While the laser is primarily aimed at industrial materials processing, it could also prove useful in biophotonics and nonlinear optics applications.

Hyperion OpticsBerkeley Nucleonics CorporationMad City Labs, Inc.LaCroix Precision OpticsCHROMA TECHNOLOGY CORP.Universe Kogaku America Inc.HÜBNER Photonics
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