M Squared targets terrorist bombs and US market

A TECHNOLOGY firm that makes lasers to detect terrorists' bombs is to push into the United States after securing a funding boost.

Glasgow-based M Squared Lasers has won a six-figure financial package from Clydesdale Bank, allowing the company to set-up an office in San Jose, California. The company already sells its lasers to customers across Europe, North America and Asia.

The fresh funding has been used to appoint a marketing and business development manager in California.

Founder Dr Graeme Malcolm told The Scotsman: "Lasers are now starting to be used to detect substances that might be used in a terrorist attack, like explosives, chemicals or biological agents.

"Part of the technology that we've developed allows you to detect some of these substances from a distance, so people don't have to put on big hazard suits to examine suspicious packages."

He explained that light from his lasers bounces off particles in the unknown substances or off vapour released by them.

Malcolm added: "In oil and gas there are a range of applications in exploration and production.

"The lasers can look for hydrocarbons, like ethane, and chemicals such as hydrogen sulfide." In the medical arena, Malcolm said the lasers had a range of applications, from detecting diseases on a cellular level to scanning parts of the body for diseases such as skin cancer.

He likened some of his laser beams to the X-rays used to scan the human body but without any harmful ionising effects.

M Squared's lasers operate across a range of wavelengths but Malcolm highlighted the company's work in the mid infra-red range and in the "tera-hertz gap", in between visible light and radio waves.

Since it was set up in May 2006, M Squared has grown to employ 11 staff and is this year expected to turnover 1.5 million.

M Squared was established by Malcolm and Dr Gareth Maker, who together had previously founded Microlase Optical Systems, which was sold to Nasdaq-listed Coherent in 2000.