Northrop Grumman Leads $15M Round for Daylight Solutions

7/11/11Follow @bvbigelow

San Diego’s Daylight Solutions, a six-year-old startup that specializes in mid-infrared laser technology, says today it raised $15 million in a Series C round of equity financing led by Northrop Grumman (NYSE: NOC), the Los Angeles defense contractor.

The funding comes less than a week after Daylight Solutions said its proprietary semiconductor laser had successfully completed U.S. Air Force field trials that tested the effectiveness of its infrared countermeasures technology against a variety of heat-seeking missile threats. Conventional infrared countermeasures typically involve firing a series of very hot flares that draw the missile away from targeted aircraft.

In a statement today, Daylight Solutions co-founder and CEO, Tim Day, referred to Northrop Grumman’s leading role in the round as an “additional endorsement of our technology and capability.” The company says the funding round, which was joined by existing investors, will enable Daylight Solutions to continue on a fast-growth curve while advancing its technology, expanding its product line, and improving its manufacturing capabilities.

As I explained in a 2009 profile of the company, Day and co-founder Paul Larson saw an untapped opportunity for solid-state lasers that operate at mid-infrared wavelengths, from 3 um to 12 um. It’s a part of the spectrum beyond visible light that Day described as “the color of heat.” The external cavity quantum cascade laser they developed is composed of extremely thin layers of Indium gallium arsenide, which the company now describes simply as a Quantum Cascade Laser (QCL).

The technology has a range of potential uses in medical diagnostics, environmental monitoring, scientific research, and defense because nearly all molecules absorb energy at specific wavelengths of the mid-IR spectrum. The company says multiple configurations of its JammIR product line were successfully tested by the Air Force and other defense contractors under environmentally demanding conditions for military aircraft, including both helicopters and planes. Daylight Solutions says its infrared laser can be mounted on aircraft and “aimed” at approaching missiles. The technology blinds and confuses a variety of missiles, including the ubiquitous shoulder-fired, heat-seeking missile that poses a serious threat to both military and civilian aircraft.

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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