Laser Thermal Shines in the Spotlight of Virginia’s Small Business Development Center

April 5, 2024by John Gaskins

As the only player in the small-scale thermal measurements market, Laser Thermal is used to standing out. That’s why it came as no surprise when America’s SBDC Virginia chose to highlight our small business in March of 2024, to join us in celebrating our achievement of over $1 million in sales in the past year.

Laser Thermal Stands Out Among Small Businesses

Until we opened our doors in February 2020, there was no commercially available measurement science like the one we provide: testing the thermal conductivity of items 1.000 to 10,000 times smaller than the diameter of human hair. While we love being the first–and currently, only!– player on the field, it did make business development a challenge. With help from the SBDC, we were able to develop the winning business model that we employ today. 

Starting in a University of Virginia Lab, we knew we had an idea worth pursuing. But taking our business concept out of the lab and into the market was a long process. As pioneers in our field, there were few examples for us to follow. 

Left to design our business model from scratch, we quickly discovered that we needed business expertise that our own research couldn’t supply. That’s why, in October 2020, we reached out to the Central Virginia Small Business Development Center. With their assistance, Laser Thermal has emerged as a Virginia small business success, posting over $1 million in sales from October 2022 to October 2023. 

For the full story on how mentorship from the Central Virginia SBDC helped the Laser Thermal team take their business from idea to reality, read the recent SBDC article here

Why Laser Thermal Works

Traditional thermal conductivity measurement techniques typically involve heat sources or sensors (thermometers) that are significantly larger than the thin films commonly found in modern micro- and nanotechnologies. As a result, the volume of material being measured is much greater than the thin film itself. 

This leads to temperatures and temperature gradients being influenced more by surrounding materials than by the thin film. Consequently, these techniques are not well-suited for accurately measuring the thermal conductivity of thin film materials.

Laser Thermal’s patented non-contact, laser-based pump-probe technique, SSTR-F, can measure interfacial thermal resistance and thin films from nanometers to microns. With this tool, you can streamline your thermal conductivity and resistance testing for materials, interfaces, thin films, and substrates. In short, we fill in the thermal data for you quicker, easier, and more accurately than ever before, so that you can test and develop projects faster.

Laser Thermal Fills Information Gaps

Just as we initially lacked the information we needed to bring our unique service to market, the companies we work with frequently lack the thermal metrology information they need to optimize their processes and ensure top performance from their products. We’ll help to fill in those data gaps with our patented equipment and testing and contract services, allowing our partners to develop better products, faster. 

Laser Thermal is always interested in new projects and challenges. Want to get started with our thermal conductivity testing services?  Schedule a call or check out a demo so that we can get started testing your products and materials today.

John Gaskins

As Co-Founder and CEO of Laser Thermal, John has conducted research characterizing the mechanical, optical and thermal properties of materials for almost two decades. John received his Ph.D. in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering from the University of Virginia in 2013.  His work developed methodologies for testing the size dependent properties in thin film structures.  After his Ph.D. John joined Patrick Hopkins’ group extending his Ph.D. work focused on mechanical property characterization to optical and thermal properties. John is leading Laser Thermal’s development of SSTR-F to provide accessible small-scale thermal conductivity measurements to industrial and academic partners.