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Agilent buys UK-based Cobalt Light Systems for £40 million

Staff Writer |
Oxfordshire-based Cobalt Light Systems has been acquired by Agilent, a U.S. analytical laboratory technologies company that was spun out of Hewlett Packard, for £40 million.




The deal will see Oxford become Agilent’s global centre for Raman spectroscopy.

Raman spectroscopy is one of the fastest-growing spectroscopy segments and has the potential to revolutionise the pharmaceutical industry and airport security.

Conventional spectroscopy solutions have limited detection of materials through sealed, non-transparent containers.

Cobalt Light Systems’ highly-differentiated Raman spectroscopic instruments enable non-invasive, through-barrier identification of chemicals and materials.

This includes quickly and accurately analysing materials hidden inside objects or through opaque barriers such as plastic, coloured glass, paper or skin.

Applications include analysing whole tablets to measure concentrations of materials for pharmaceutical quality control, or detecting hazardous chemicals or other banned substances inside sealed containers at airport security.

It results in time, cost and efficiency savings for those using it. Importantly, it also improves safety.

Innovate UK granted Cobalt Light Systems a £180,000 smart award in 2012. This helped the company to develop a prototype for screening liquids in sealed containers to detect and identify liquid explosives at airports.

The prototype, built on the proprietary technology SORS (spatially offset Raman spectroscopy), resulted in the company launching Insight100.

This instrument can detect dangerous chemicals in unopened containers within a few seconds with very high detection rates. It is now used in more that 70 airports.


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