FemtoRoc Corp., is undertaking a joint research project with a researcher at the University of Rochester and its Institute of Optics to develop powerful lasers that can be used to chance metal surfaces. The project, expected to take six years, has a research budget estimated at $10 million.

“What (FemtoRoc)need is a high-powered, ultra-fast, femtosecond-class laser system with average power measured in kilowatts, rather than the 10’s of watts now commercially available,” said John Marciante, an associate professor of optics at UR. “So, we need to scale up by over a factor of 10.”

UR researchers have been using a proprietary, super-hydrophobic technology which employs lasers to create an intricate pattern of micro and nanoscale structures, giving the treated metal surfaces a new set of physical properties. The commercial applications of the technology range from de-icing of commercial airplanes and large trucks, to rust and corrosion prevention of exposed metal surfaces, to cleaner, anti-microbial surfaces for surgical and medical facilities.

To become commercially viable, these lasers need to be much more powerful. To develop the lasers, Marciante’s laboratory, which specializes in developing advanced, high-power, fiber lasers, will need to address challenges such as overheating. In addition to the research done by his own team, Marciante will leverage a network of veteran researchers in the United States and abroad and bring in third party vendors with proven fiber design and manufacturing capabilities.

“No one in the world has been able to do this specific kind of femtosecond laser treatment of metal surfaces,” Marciante said.  “To launch commercial products using this technology will be a real game changer. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create new science.”