Sandia National Labs Technology Helped Tech Startup Secure Funding

By Manette Fisher, Sandia National Laboratories

Randy Montoya | Sandia National Laboratories

May 22, 2020 – When a small business needed help proving that its invention, a tabletop laser system, could characterize metals faster and more easily than current equipment, they turned to Sandia National Laboratories’ expertise in metals characterization.

Sandia’s testing verified that Albuquerque-based Advanced Optical Technologies’ patented Crystallographic Polarization-Classification Imaging, or CPCI, process reduces time spent on characterization from hours to minutes. The new imaging process has applications in the aerospace, automotive, energy and medical industries and for 3D printing.

Sandia and Advanced Optical Technologies were matched through the New Mexico Small Business Assistance Program, which offers expertise to help solve technical challenges faced by small companies in New Mexico. This includes projects that require testing, design consultation or access to special equipment or facilities that are not available to small businesses.

Due, in part, to the results of Sandia’s study, the company received funding to build the system for the U.S. Air Force, where it primarily will be dedicated to titanium crystallography. CPCI can also characterize other metals, including beryllium, magnesium, cobalt, zinc, tin and zirconium.

The company also received New Mexico Economic Development and Office of Economic Adjustment grants with support from the New Mexico Manufacturing Extension Partnership. In addition, the partnership was recognized at a 2019 New Mexico Small Business Association Innovation Celebration.

Malini Hoover, the company’s CEO, said she is interested in marketing CPCI to companies, national labs and universities that characterize metal crystallography. Titanium is lightweight, corrosion-resistant, and can withstand extremely high temperatures — qualities that make the metal a popular choice for the aerospace industry.