Dartmouth-based Meta Materials Inc., which specializes in producing synthetic materials, is acquiring the assets and intellectual property of Devens, Mass.-based Optodot Corp., which signals a move into next-generation battery materials.

Meta, which is listed on the Nasdaq stock exchange in New York, issued a statement on Friday saying it has agreed to buy the Optodot assets, which include 67 issued and 22 pending patents, for US$48.5 million ($67.7 million) in cash and stock. The deal, which is expected to close this month, calls for a payment of US$3.5 million in cash and US$45 million in Meta stock.

Meta is best known for producing synthetic materials that can alter the properties of light, but it has been expanding into new markets in the last year through a series of acquisitions. With the latest deal, it is moving into materials needed for lithium-ion battery separators, a market that Yano Research estimates will grow from US$5.1 billion in 2021 to US$9 billion in 2025.

"The race to electrification and a new world in which electricity replaces gasoline and diesel is just getting started,” said Meta President and CEO George Palikaras.

"Optodot has developed disruptive, high-performance ceramic nanomaterials in partnership with leading battery and medical equipment OEMs. Through this strategic acquisition, Meta expands its nanomaterials library and core expertise to address key challenges in battery safety and other applications, opening multi-billion-dollar markets.”

Backed by LG Technology Ventures, Optodot specializes in the materials used in lithium-ion battery separators and infrared optical coating technologies. A battery separator is a porous membrane placed between the electrodes of a battery to prevent contact between the anode and cathode during transportation.

The Optodot team is led by President and CEO Steve Carlson, who was named the 2022 Inventor of the Year by the New York Intellectual Property Law Association.

"Optodot has been pioneering technologies that make batteries safer for the last two decades in collaboration with leading OEMs, innovative start-ups, and U.S. government agencies.,” said Carlson. "Our complementary technologies and partnerships will help accelerate market adoption in electric vehicles and other industries.”

The Optodot assets are the third acquisition in 10 months for Meta, which last June raised about C$198 million when it listed on the Nasdaq through the reverse takeover of a listed company. In April, Meta agreed to buy Oxford, UK-based Plasma App Ltd., which specializes in the high-speed coating of objects, for US$20 million in stock.  And in May it closed its C$90.5 million acquisition of Nanotech Security Corp. of Burnaby, BC, which makes the anti-counterfeit material found in banknotes.  

Though the Optodot acquisition was announced last Friday, the Meta share price didn’t really respond until Tuesday, when it rose 21 percent to US$1.77 by mid-afternoon. The company, which employs about 130 people, is valued at about US$525 million.