Nova Scotia

Innovacorp investing $2M in laser beam deflection company

Innovacorp is investing $2 million in a Dartmouth company that's developing a product that deflects laser beams aimed at aircraft.

The money will be used to tailor a new product for the aerospace industry called metaAir

George Palikaras is the founder and CEO of Metamaterial Technologies Inc. (PRNewsFoto/Lamda Guard)

Innovacorp is investing $2 million in a Dartmouth company that's developing a product that deflects laser beams aimed at aircraft.

Metamaterial Technologies Inc. will use the money to tailor its metaAir product for the aerospace industry.

The company is developing and testing the product in partnership with Airbus, the maker of the world's biggest commercial passenger jet.

George Palikaras is the founder and CEO of Metamaterial Technologies Inc. Palikaras told CBC's Mainstreet that in the U.S. last year, there were more than 4,000 laser incidents involving large and small aircrafts.

"It's a growing concern," he said.

Palikaras says there have been no airplane crashes because of lasers distracting pilots, but pilots have reported eye injuries due to these lights. 

Metamaterial Technologies Inc. has developed new optical thin films — more than 100 times thinner than a strand of human hair — which are capable of manipulating light by blocking, absorbing and enhancing it, depending on the application.

Palikaras says because pilots need to see things such as runway lights and their instruments even if there is a problem with a laser, the product must be unique to aviation's needs.

"Flying a plane has to be unaffected by any kind of colouration and filters. And that's where our technology succeeds," he said.

Palikaras said in comparison to the competition, metaAir is a more transparent and flexible technology. It self-adheres to the inside of an aircraft's cockpit windscreen and controls light from a range of angles. Typically, the deflection of laser light is about 45 to 90 degrees.

"But don't worry, it's not going to hit another plane because once it gets deflected, there's just a little bit of light left," Palikaras said.

Maritime roots

The CEO started working on this technology in 2010 in England, which has one of the largest concentrations of metamaterial scientists in the world. His wife is from the Maritimes, so the two looked to here to find labs where the technology could be prototyped.

Palikaras found two universities to help him out: the University of New Brunswick and Université de Moncton. 

The company has been based out of Dartmouth, N.S., since 2013.

This year, Metamaterial Technologies Inc. will launch another product, a transparent film that can be applied to the surface of protective eyewear, visors and goggles designed to protect law enforcement personnel, helicopter pilots and others who can wear the technology.

Palikaras said the company is hoping to launch the metaAir product sometime next year.

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