ORLANDO, FL / ACCESSWIRE / December 1, 2021 / LightPath Technologies, Inc. (NASDAQ:LPTH) (“LightPath,” the “Company,” or “we”), a vertically integrated provider of engineered solutions for the global photonics industry, today announced that it has secured an exclusive optical usage license to manufacture products using the infrared patent portfolio developed and owned by the United States Navy’s U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL). Along with the Company’s existing product portfolio, this technology transfer agreement positions LightPath as the leader in Infrared Optical Solutions, using these new materials to provide superior solutions to what is otherwise available.
The agreement with NRL provides LightPath with access to unique chalcogenide glass compositions to develop more comprehensive optical systems targeting some of the fastest growing infrared (IR) markets, including the IR imaging market which is expected to growth from $5.8 billion in 2020 to $8.3 billion by 20251 and the multispectral imaging market which is estimated to grow from $10.9 billion in 2020 to $17.6 billion by 20252.
Commenting on this historical agreement, LightPath’s President and Chief Executive Officer, Sam Rubin stated, “We are elated to have been awarded this exclusive license by the U.S. Navy’s prestigious NRL after a lengthy application and diligence process. Having this optical use license for chalcogenide glass materials provides us with a very unique, exclusive and cutting-edge advantage which will in turn allow us to design better optical systems than what are currently available. As a result, we will now be able to access several multi-billion dollar markets as an increasingly important partner for commercial development of engineered solutions for Department of Defense agencies, Defense Industrial Base (DIB), prime contractors and other IR optical imaging businesses.”
The NRL is the Department of the Navy’s corporate laboratory which employs approximately 3,000 civilian scientists, engineers and support personnel as a scientific and engineering command dedicated to research that drives innovative advances for the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps. from the seafloor to space. The agency turns to the private sector for advancing their technologies on a commercial basis. Given LightPath’s proprietary high-volume, cost-effective precision molding capabilities and high-quality chalcogenide Black Diamond™ (“BD6™”) glass manufacturing facilities, the Company is uniquely positioned to partner with NRL for the commercialization of its IR glass portfolio.
Mr. Rubin continued, “Over the last few years, we have been seeing a trend of moving away from using Germanium crystals as the main material in Infrared systems, into using synthetic Chalcogenide glass, such as our BD6 infrared glass. However, as opposed to visible optics systems that can use dozens of types of glasses in their designs, infrared optical systems are limited only to a small number of materials that are suitable for that wavelength range, severely limiting the potential capabilities of those systems. As a result, infrared optical systems tend to be larger in size and weight then visible systems, leading to higher cost, which limits the number of applications and industries that have been adopting infrared imaging. Bringing to market these nine types of materials provides designers with materials that have a range of different optical properties such as glass density, transition temperature, spectral performance and expansion characteristics that are critical for performance and ideally are made from moldable, lower cost material. With multiple different glass types to use in a system design, infrared optical systems will become more affordable in size, weight and cost, and will be able to tap into new markets and applications. In addition to providing optical system designers more flexibility and choices of materials, this will also allow us to design and deliver superior optical systems, compare to what is currently considered the state of the art in infrared imaging. We intend to substantially manufacture these products in the United States at the Company’s recently expanded headquarters in Orlando, Florida. Our current proprietary BD6 material is being made internally at LightPath’s Orlando facilities, alongside multiple molding presses, processing equipment for high efficiency anti-reflective coatings and DLC machines for added lens protection. We are making over 200 kilos per week of chalcogenide glass and may increase our volumetric capacity if demand is so high that it is required within 6 months.”
LightPath’s BD6 glass for IR applications is made from chalcogenide materials which are increasingly replacing germanium and other crystal materials for IR optics due to lower cost. Germanium, in particular, has been subject to rising or volatile pricing due to the material being primarily sourced from China. LightPath began to replace its IR lens raw materials by offering first BD2, and later BD6, a general-purpose chalcogenide glass. Due to BD6 or chalcogenide glass being lighter and more malleable, LightPath is able to mold lenses for higher quantity commercial applications as compared to slower, more labor intensive and more costly diamond turning of lenses made from germanium glass which is a harder substance. The NRL glasses offer a wide range of refractive indices and wavelength dispersion for optimal chromatic correction. In addition, various thermal constants and mechanical properties give optical designers many choices for athermalizing optical designs. NRL glasses are ideally suited for the infrared imaging market which is estimated to grow by over 40% through 2025, which includes thermal imaging cameras operating in the medium wave to long wave IR bands and for applications such as thermography, diagnostics, security and surveillance.
Optics for multispectral imaging is another fast-growing market where NRL-designed glass would be ideal when mass produced by LightPath. Multispectral imaging involves the process of capturing in one camera images in multiple spectral ranges. This is emerging as a key technology in medical imaging, drone and satellite imaging and mapping, defense applications, and quality control. NRL materials have been specifically designed for use in multispectral imaging systems, having a very wide range of applicable wavelengths. These combined end markets forge an opportunity estimated at nearly twice the size of infrared imaging and growing at more than 60% through 2025.
Darrow Associates, Inc.