Canada’s Metamaterial Technologies Inc. (MTI), which produces smart materials and photonics, has acquired Rolith’s Rolling Mask Lithography and NanoWeb products. This should accelerate MTI’s ability to develop large-scale optical metamaterial products for aerospace and other markets.

Founder and CEO George Palikaras says Metamaterial has been pioneering optical metamaterials for five years. The acquisition of Rolith Inc. will move the company into the U.S. market and help scale its manufacturing capabilities. Rolling Mask Lithography complements Metamaterial’s technology by creating nano-patterns lithographically at meter scale. “It provides us with large-scale manufacturing methods for optical metamaterial designs for laser filters and future product applications.”

For commercial aviation, Metamaterial has been working with Airbus to tailor its metaAIRTM product, a metamaterial optical filter that protects vision against laser strikes. The filter has been developed using holographic nano-patterns. Applied with an optically clear adhesive inside windshields, eyewear, visors or sensors, metaAIRTM selectively blocks and deflects harmful lasers without interfering with night vision.

Palikaras now envisions hybrid products combining layers of lithographic and holographic nano-patterned layers to manipulate light.

NanoWeb, a transparent metal mesh developed using Rolling Mask Lithography, could be retrofitted on general aviation windshields for protection against fog and ice. “Due to high conductivity, it requires very low voltage and can reach more than 60C in just 1 min.,” Palikaras notes. “It can be turned on and off as needed.” Transparency greater than 90% ensures pilots have clear views, and NanoWeb is a deicing solution for small aircraft lacking heated windshields.

The acquisition of Rolith allows Metamaterial to expand its business in the U.S. and especially California. Through its new U.S. office, the company is looking to partner with U.S. agencies. It recently started working with the U.S. Coast Guard on laser eye protection. Metamaterial will seek partnerships with U.S. manufacturers and aircraft operators. Having a foothold in California will make it easier to access one of Stanford University’s renowned professors, Mark Brongersma, who is co-founder of Rolith and one of the world’s top scientists in optical metamaterials and nano-photonics.