30 Jun 2006
On the back of its development of miniature sources for the mid-infrared sector, Daylight Solutions wins multi-million dollar funding. Lucrative applications in security, bio-med and imaging appear to be substantial for this newly portable technology.
Daylight Solutions announced this week (28 June) the closing of USD 7.5 million in "Series A" funding. The round was led by San Diego-based Hamilton Tech Capital Partners, and included investments from Masters Capital Nanotechnology and strategic partner Magnecomp International.
The company manufactures miniaturized, molecular detection and imaging devices, with applications in non-invasive medical diagnostic, security, and various industrial markets. The company's range is based on its capabilities in miniaturized, broadly tunable, mid-infrared lasers; those delivering wavelengths between 3 µm and 12 µm.
Daylight's Tiny Tunable is said to be the first product to meet all of the requirements for creating a high-volume, commercially viable, mid-IR solution. By coupling high-power, room-temperature, quantum cascade laser technology, with miniaturized external, tunable cavities, and integrating these elements into telecom-style packaging, this laser provides a commercial market solution.
Mid-IR lasers have diverse applications. In the medical field, they enable point-of-care facilities to perform a non-invasive diagnostic exam on a patient's breath. This technique may help in the move away from a reliance on more expensive, time consuming and risky invasive medical procedures. The lasers can also help with advances in imaging, providing a non-invasive approach to screenings such as cervical cancer exams.
The advantages of mid-infrared lasers for use in molecular detection and imaging have been known for decades. Daylight says its products are pulling this science out of the laboratories and creating commercially viable products that allow integration into portable mainstream applications.
There are four key features of the lasers' design: tunability; operation at room temperature; the miniature size; and their potential for high volume manufacture.
"There is a wide variety of commercial as well as military applications for this platform technology. The markets for miniature, tunable, low cost laser engines will be large and sustainable. The Daylight team has innovative intellectual property, as well as the industry and business experience to grow this company into a major 'engine' and subsystem player," said Paul Bouchard, Hamilton Tech senior managing director.
The mid-infrared is so full of potential because many molecules of interest have fundamental absorption in this region; many gases have a unique spectral signature allowing identification and differentiation (such as in a mixture). There is also a high signal to noise ratio giving clear results in both detection and imaging.
Important market opportunities for these lasers in molecular detection and imaging include: medical diagnostics; non-invasive breath analysis; cellular imaging and drug discovery; security and military applications such as chemical agent identification; and detection of explosives.
Timothy Day, chairman, CEO and CTO of Daylight Solutions, commented, "We have excellent IP and strong capabilities in the areas of miniaturising and manufacturing molecular detection and imaging engines. These products enable applications in a variety of commercially important areas, and we are thrilled to be working with our investors to take these solutions into volume markets."
"The US$ 7.5 million investment will allow us to execute our manufacturing and business development plans, and it secures our position as a leader in mid-infrared technology."
• At the end of May, Daylight Solutions won the PHAST/LFW 2006 Most Innovative Product of the Year award for the tunable, mid-infrared light engine, which is aimed at both scientific and OEM applications.
"For many decades scientists and engineers have known that the mid-IR spectral region is rich in molecular information. Many exciting discoveries have resulted that will one day advance the fields of medical diagnostics, homeland security and countless industrial applications," said George Simonis, PhAST co-chair.
"Though few people doubt the potential of this spectrum, most people would agree that full exploitation of it on a commercial basis, requires new approaches to mid-IR laser sources and detectors. This is why Daylight Solutions' entry was so innovative and deserving of this year's award. It finds a way to make such applications more practical and commercially viable."