Frank Yao, Executive Director and CEO
“That’s where Innofocus Photonics Technology comes in. A true entrepreneur can build a company that can transform robust technology into a valuable product and add greater value to the industry. The career odyssey of Frank Yao, an enthusiastic technology and market innovator in the photonics space, follows a similar path. Working in the information and communication industry for 25 years, Frank noticed that few people in the marketplace could make ultrafast laser nanofabrication precise equipment or processing systems using advanced technologies like photonics, high precision control by AI algorithms, super resolution image processing, among others. Many scientists understand their specialized area and know what they need on their nanoscale level to research and achieve better experiment results. However, they don’t have effective instruments or devices required to create a structure or component with flexibility and simplicity to enable their constructive works. “We started from filling this gap by providing easy-to-use products and services, which help researchers to create greater value for scientific research with enormous potentials to deliver intelligent devices, renewable energy, and new materials in a broader scope,” states Frank, Executive Director and CEO of Innofocus Photonics Technology.
Deeply engaged in technology product and solution development both targeting B2C and B2B market segments, Frank focuses on closing the gaps between academia and industry worlds to create true value for both. Through collaboration with a cohort of researchers, engineers, and business partners, his company in Australia, Innofocus Photonics Technology, has established the capability of translating intelligent manufacturing and materials innovation into real impact of our lives.
Innofocus is committed to transforming technologies into business solutions and value services. The current market is rapidly evolving from intelligent manufacturing to new energy and new materials like smart glass/film, intelligent IoT ecosystem, and green healthcare applications. “We have been driving translation from technologies into products through innovations of manufacturing capabilities and new materials characteristics, enabling people to experience real change in their lives, smarter, greener and happier,” says Frank. The company is backed by a cross-disciplinary R&D team, covering a group of experts in fields including photonics, algorithms, software engineering, data analysis and processing, image recognition, microbiology, computational chemistry, and optoelectronic machinery.
Explore Infinity Through Light
Founded by Frank in 2018, Innofocus designs and manufactures intelligent laser nanofabrication systems, combining technologies of 3D image processing technology and ultra-highresolution microscopic imaging. Innofocus has worked extensively with research institutes and industry partners worldwide to expand the application areas. “We are dedicated to take our intelligent nanofabrication capacities to a broader community and explore new devices and new materials development for a better world,” says Frank.
Innofocus is known for its NanoPrint series of 3D nanofabrication systems. The company has several core technology invention patents in this domain, with complete intellectual property rights and independent manufacturing capabilities in the fields of optics, electromechanics, algorithms, and automated software systems. Innofocus’ products and applications have served the research applications in Australia, the United States, China, Singapore, and the business is growing rapidly year by year.
“Our business is growing from system design and manufacturing towards high value-adding consumable devices and products.
We are very honoured to be an industrial partner of the ARC SEAM Program (the Australian Research Council Industrial Transformation Training Centre in Surface Engineering for Advanced Materials),” states Frank. SEAM is Australia’s premier manufacturing research and development center that focuses on applied research with tangible outcomes to nurture and cultivate the industrial innovation leaders of tomorrow. As a cutting-edge technology start-up company, Innofocus is contributing to a 5-year research project developing a low-cost and large-scale graphene layer coating method that is able to precisely control the coating properties and thicknesses with nanometer accuracy.
Innofocus allows the scientists in various fields to undertake their experiments or relevant research and give them the capability to create a nano-scale structure that can help accelerate their growth. For example, in a biomedical space, scientists are focused on cells. To gain the clear visibility of the cells, they have to obtain a structure to help them differentiate cells on a micro level. “At Innofocus, we help them at a micrometre level utilising our nano fabrication system to fabricate structures for enhancing experimental outcomes. We also have the multi-thread imaging processing and ultra-high resolution microscopy technologies that help them to observe the live-cell simultaneously in a non-invasive way,” explains Frank.
With continuous innovation, the company can leverage the latest photonics products and solutions to realise the fabrication of many new green materials and deepen the development of energy-saving and emission reduction solutions. The specific application domains include graphene photothermal materials and solutions, electroless cooling materials and solutions, photonics devices like fiber Bragg grating (FBG), wavelength-division multiplexing (WDM) and photonics wire bonding (PWB) waveguides, and microlens array. They rejoice to be able to transform the technology of photonics into equipment and devices, enabling products and solutions that can benefit people’s livelihood.
Building Strong Customer Relationships
Aiming at solving customers’ practical problems, Innofocus establishes a Customer Innovation and Practice Centre (CIPC), where they continuously iterate and optimise the products and solutions in its open labs to accelerate the realisation of various fabrication applications, thus creating win-win value by achieving the best practice with its customers.
When it comes to customer engagement, the process starts with researchers describing their requirements in the field of their research to Innofocus. After discussions and brainstorming sessions, Innofocus translates their requirements into the optical or photonic language and develops a fabrication strategy. The fabricated devices are then shipped to the customers and tested in their application environment and feedback is provided to CIPC. “Some of the customers say, we are not only satisfied by having your services but want to buy your equipment,” says Frank. “We then discuss the tailored requirements that are needed on our equipment and provide the equipment to them.” In this manner, Innofocus has strengthened their expertise on 3D Super-Resolution Microscopy, NanoPrint 3D Intelligent Nano Fabrication System, Automated Thin Film Coating Machine, and Ultrafast Fiber Laser. Now, Innofocus is ready to take the challenges of nanofabrication and photonics from the industries.
Innofocus has been collaborating with many research teams in academic research institutions and helping them to provide more capabilities and possibilities for their research projects through its intelligent nanofabrication system design and devices. For example, the company’s long-term collaboration with the Swinburne University of Technology in Australia, which is guided by the direction of the Australian Research Council (ARC) SEAM program, enabled the fabrication of metasurface photonics structures, colour displays on graphene thin film, and microlens on graphene 2D material. In addition, they collaborated with a UCLA’s research group to design and test free-form structure photonics reflective devices for academic research on hyperspectrum imaging. Innofocus was pleased to see that research groups of Swinburne have published several high impact papers in related fields.
With such capabilities of Innofocus’ platform, customers can experience the leading-edge product features, understand its performance and applicable scenarios, and receive customised design, fabrication, and test validation expertise, significantly improving the efficiency of research or application development reducing trial and error costs. Through continuous investment and development of its open labs, the company enabled its customers to collaborate with the CIPC and work together to facilitate the rapid growth of new applications for ultrafast laser intelligent manufacturing.
The company endeavours to develop optical solutions and services for target customers in a niche market. The development is tailored for the customers’ budget to allow them to enjoy the privilege to access Innofocus services at the earliest. Innofocus provides support regularly so that its customers can understand how to tune the parameters and use the solution to focus on their research. The manufacturing of a consumable product from here will be interesting for the company as the technology holds the key to the advancement and enrichment of different industries. “We are committed to solving customers’ specific problems and using our expertise to build optimal solutions. As a result, we have significantly reduced the trial-and-error cycle of our customers and provided them with tangible progresses in a short period of time. Through our open collaboration with global customers in pursuit of best practices, we have not only created value for our customers, but also enhanced our own technology leadership and product competitiveness,” concludes Frank