Quantum Entrepreneur Seminar | Laser Quantum GmbH - From PhD thesis to Wall Street

Albrecht Bartels discussed his work with optical frequency combs and their applications, and his transition from PhD work to being a managing director of a major photonics company.


Albrecht Bartels, Managing Director of Laser Quantum GmbH


Laser Quantum GmbH - From PhD thesis to Wall Street


Gigaoptics GmbH was founded in 2000 based on the result of my PhD work and a lucky coincidence, the advent of the optical frequency comb concept. In 2011 Gigaoptics GmbH was acquired and renamed by the Laser Quantum Group which today employs around 160 people at four locations in three countries and recently, LQ has become part of the Novanta Group, a NASDAQ-quoted 500M$ company. My talk will take you along on the journey from a one-man show to being part of a major global photonics player. It will illustrate some of the challenges and successes encountered during a career in which I aspired to remain a scientifically active person and at the same time lead a commercially successful company. The technical topics covered in the presentation are frequency combs, asynchronous optical sampling and nonlinear microscopy.


Dr. Bartels' presented his journey from developing important technology during his PhD work - namely the GHz femtosecond Ti:Sapphire laser - which became the basis of his company Gigaoptics founded in 2000.  Not every start-up is founded in the same way, and Dr. Bartels story demonstrated that even if your career takes diversions instead of a linear path, you collect experiences that can be quite valuable down the road.  For instance Dr. Bartels' time at NIST, Boulder provided valuable experience with applications of femtosecond lasers - and even 45 peer-reviewed journals!  The evolution of Gigaoptics also showcased the importance of receiving a boost in resources for growing the company's portfolio and infrastructure either by being bought by a larger company or receiving investment capitol.  Dr. Bartels visit was particularly valuable for the founders of Swabian Instruments who had the opportunity to discuss details such as finding good distributors and what to look for in a sales person.