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Grayflare Inc. is a spin-off company out of the laboratory of Dr. A. Meldrum at the University of Alberta. Dr. Meldrum has extensive experience in optics, with almost 200 publications and patents, several research and teaching awards, and h-index of 44, and numerous other recognitions. Grayflare was built with one guiding principle: what have we had to build for our lab that we couldn't buy?

Our first product line is a suite of customized optical blackout and laser curtain materials designed to optically isolate specific experiments or parts of the lab, both as a matter of convenience and increased research output, and to meet laser safety requirements. When building our lab we discovered that our options were expensive, awkward, and heavy laser curtains, heavy and inflexible darkened plexiglass through which it is impossible to run power lines or anything else that needs to get from an isolated experiment into the outside world, flammable and inflexible cardboard and paper, or cut pieces of fabric of uncertain origin.

Talking with local  manufacturers didn't help – they didn't have any concept of the degree of blackout needed in a laboratory setting, couldn’t provide customized service without massively ballooning the cost, had no magnetized options which we have found to work best in many applications (although not the only choice), were generally unable to provide a laboratory-grade service, and had no concept of laser barriers.

We also learned that commercial laser barrier products are not always what they claim. We found laser breakthrough at irradiances significantly lower than the ANSI rating provided by certain laser curtain manufacturers. Considering the cost of laser barrier curtains, we found this unacceptable.

So we developed our own blackout and laser barrier systems. We tested numerous materials for optical blackout quality, fire retardancy, laser penetration, and ease of use. We first developed magnetized optical table covers that will attach directly to a magnetic steel frame above any optical table and worked with our manufacturers to develop lightweight laser barrier materials.


Since we have several optical setups in the same large lab room, we instantly gained increased research output as it became possible to run multiple experiments without interference.


Our materials are also excellent for steel-framed laboratory windows. In buildings like ours, there was a strong push for increased sightlines and open-concept construction, which is not easily compatible with an optics lab’s need for light tightness and laser safety. Our magnetized covers attach directly to our window frames, allowing our lab to become optically isolated from the outside world in seconds.

From blackout materials, we are moving into higher-tech products that we also had to build for our optical setups. We are currently developing a spectral imaging device for fluorescence microscopes, telescopes, and commercial cameras. We expect this product line to be ready in 2019.

Finally, we are also pleased to perform optical consulting and measurement services. We use Zemax OpticStudio® to design optical components, but we can also offer consulting advice to any company wishing to develop optics solutions in its specific industry. Our lab can measure reflection, transmission, and irradiance spectra and perform many other optical characterizations

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