Spinoff From ORC
Finland, there’s little denying, is one of the most tech-savvy nations on the planet. From the famous Nokia mobile phone brand to the plethora of talented R&D engineers at the country’s disposal, Suomi has been a leading light for a generation.
That can be said in the quantum technologies market, too, where Finland has several startups doing the country proud like Algorithmiq, Bluefors, IQM, and Quantastica. For a deeper look at some of these startups — as well as others around the globe — TQD’s new data platform, The Quantum Insider (TQI), is now available.
Consolidating Finland’s legacy in quantum information science (QIS) is another quantum tech startup, Vexlum. Founded in 2017 in Tampere, it is a laser startup manufacturing high-power narrow-linewidth VECSELs for quantum tech applications, and a spin-off from Tampere University of Technology Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC). The centre, excitingly, has been developing its Vertical External Cavity Surface Emitting Lasers (VECSELs for short) technology for more than a decade. VECSELs merge the best of semiconductor and thin-disk lasers and, according to Vexlum:
Wavelength versatility of the semiconductor gain structures, and the heat management capability and external cavity architecture of the thin-disk concept make together the most versatile laser technology platform. This combination offers broad wavelength coverage, multi-watt power and tunable narrow-linewidth operation with high beam quality
Vexlum’s products include a VECSEL head, a control unit and a low-vibration chiller with recent developments in how VECSELs can be used for ion trapping. The secret to the startup’s business development has been navigated by the team capturing the attention of customers from the atomic and molecular physics community. For it has been here where Vexlum’s initial prototypes have been tested. The startup sees a market for their products in the ‘trapping and manipulation of ions, the building blocks for atomic clocks, frequency references, quantum sensors, and in longer-term the quantum computers’.
Penttinen, with an MA in advanced engineering physics (optoelectronics) from Tampere University, has worked as a researcher at ORC and is currently a doctoral researcher at the same university.
A professor of optoelectronics at Tampere University, Guina’s focus is fundamental research and entrepreneurship driven in the photonics industry. Having already founded one company before Vexlum, that experience will be crucial in driving the startup’s continued success forward.
As the quantum tech ecosystem grows, startups such as Vexlum and IQM (which has already raised €39M in Series A funding round) will also benefit. Using its great IP to service the already expanding industry, Vexlum may soon join IQM and others that have managed to gain VC funding for further research and business development.