A CAITHNESS firm has won an order from US space agency Nasa.

The order secured by KP Technology, which employs 13 people in Wick, was described as "significant" but the value was not disclosed.

Nasa has placed the order for KP Technology's Kelvin Probe system, developed by company founder and co-owner Professor Iain Baikie. Named after Lord Kelvin, this is a measurement device used to characterise surface electrical properties of materials by detecting electrical changes in the top-most atomic layers.

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It can be used, for example, to ascertain how good a material is at conducting electricity.

A spokeswoman for Highlands & Islands Enterprise, which has supported KP Technology for a number of years, described the Nasa order as "significant". She said the US space agency had not told the firm what it planned to use the Kelvin Probe for, or whether it would be going into space. She noted the Wick company's technology had a variety of applications, with car giant Ford using it in the field of corrosion.

Mr Baikie, who founded KP Technology 14 years ago, said: "The Nasa order follows another recently... from the US Naval Research Laboratory in Washington DC and strong interest from the US Army Research Laboratory in Maryland. Historically our products have sold well in the United States and Europe, and we are experiencing increasing orders from the Far East."