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Dartmouth company at cutting-edge of laser technology

Dartmouth company at cutting-edge of laser technology
WATCH: A Dartmouth-based company is ramping up production on nanotechnology filtered eyewear that protect pilots from dangerous laser attacks. Jeremy Keefe reports.

A Halifax technology company has begun commercial production on protective eyewear that it says can protect pilots and military personnel from the growing threat of potentially disabling laser strikes.

Metamaterial Technologies Inc. said the aviator-style metaAIR eyewear, which will be available for commercial use in a few months, refracts laser light using a photosensitive material called photopolymer.

READ MORE: Halifax company teams up with Airbus to protect pilots against lasers

The federal government announced Friday the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency will invest $3 million in the eyewear.

The metaAIR product will also be installed into windscreens on commercial planes for companies including Airbus.

“It’s one of those things you kind of never even envisioned or imagined would be needed. But in today’s world it is,” said Dartmouth-Cole Harbour Liberal MP Darren Fisher at a Friday news conference.

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Metamaterial CEO George Palikaras said a laser scribing process changes the molecular structure of the photopolymer and creates a nanostructure that interacts destructively with light, causing laser light to refract off the plastic lens like a mirror.

“Our vision has been to change the way we use, interact and benefit from light,” Palikaras said. “And this is because light impacts all our lives.”

WATCH: A Halifax company has found a way to protect against lasers being pointed at aircraft in flight

Halifax company teams up with Airbus to protect pilots against lasers
Halifax company teams up with Airbus to protect pilots against lasers

During a news conference and demonstration, Palikaras said the eyewear can protect pilots, police and the military from threats similar to what the Pentagon said this week were laser attacks on U.S. military aircraft by Chinese personnel in Djibouti.

Laser attacks, Palikaras said, are a growing global trend accelerated by the lowering costs and rising strength of common commercial lasers.

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The federal money will be used to increase the product’s manufacturing capacity.