Irish start up uses light particles to kill sea lice

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Novel use of photonics.

The Irish Times reports that engineer Rory Casey has developed a system that kills lice using light particles. The tech will be trialled in 10 Irish salmon farms.

Casey has a background in the design and manufacture of fibre optic cables and specialises in photonics. Photonics is the science of light ie. the technology of generating, controlling, and detecting light waves and photons, which are particles of light.

APS founder and Managing Director Rory Casey. PHOTO: APS

He set up the company Atlantic Photonic Solutions (APS) in 2018, which he says has identified specific wavelengths that can eliminate parasites without harming the hosts.

Previously, Casey worked at director level for a global multinational supplying global companies such as Nortel, Ericsson, Microsoft and IBM.

He co-founded his own fibre optic company Fibrepulse in 1998 and for the past 23 years has been supplying eir, SIRO, Google, Ciena, JDS Uniphase and the European Space Agency.

The founder and managing director told the publication that he started to think of a solution to lice soon after a fish farming friend showed him first-hand the impact of the parasites.

On the tech, Casey said that “for now, we need to protect our IP so there is a limit to what I can disclose”. He added that he has “worked with photonics for years and decided to use it as the basis for a system that would kill the lice by exposing them to non-visible light waves.”

“We took the lice, put them in a lab in NUI Galway and kept testing until we found what I’ll call ‘light wavelengths of interest’,” said Casey. “In a nutshell, the light kills the lice and our tests show they are all dead within hours.”

To date, the startup has raised EUR 3 million from private and EU stage state agencies. It is funded until the commercial launch planned for Q1 2023.