US Army claims successful 'lightning laser' test
What was once the stuff of science-fiction books and cartoons may soon become reality, as the United States Army claimed to have successfully tested “lightning laser” technology, a tech site reported Friday (Manila time).
A report on CNET said the technology, dubbed laser-induced plasma channel, involves zeroing in on targets that conduct electricity better than the air or ground around them.
While it said it remains unclear how soon the military can convert this sort of technology into a weapon, there is “clear interest” in having a weapon that can harness lightning bolts.
“If a laser puts out a pulse with modest energy, but the time is incredibly tiny, the power can be huge. During the duration of the laser pulse, it can be putting out more power than a large city needs, but the pulse only lasts for two-trillionths of a second,” CNET quoted lead scientist George Fischer as saying.
But Fischer also cautioned about the technical challenges still ahead, CNET said.
“If the light focuses in air, there is certainly the danger that it will focus in a glass lens, or in other parts of the laser amplifier system, destroying it. We needed to lower the intensity in the optical amplifier and keep it low until we wanted the light to self-focus in air,” he said.
The CNET report said that in early May, Northrop Grumman demonstrated a prototype system that burned through the skin of a drone simulating a cruise missile for the test.
Fischer noted challenges involved in synchronizing the laser with the high voltage, as well as how to build a device that is sufficiently rugged to withstand extreme environmental conditions.
Also, the system would also need to be able to perform in the field over extended periods of time. — TJD, GMA News
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