Advances in technology: lasers take us one step closer to ‘Star Wars’!

Research led by Stephen Warren-Smith and Linh Nguyen from the Future Industries Institute at the University of South Australia, recently published in Nature Communications, represents a significant leap forward in the field of laser technology.

Funded by the US Air Force, this study focuses on improving infrared lasers to expand their use and effectiveness, similar to those seen in ‘Star Wars‘!

Current lasers, applied in military contexts, face power limitations, so they are only effective against smaller aerial targets.

The new research suggests remarkable progress, indicating the possibility of increasing the power of infrared lasers by up to nine times and maintaining the beam’s precision.

The advance could radically transform the use of lasers in military strategies and offer a more efficient and powerful alternative for defense.

Advances in military laser technology

The studies led by Warren-Smith and Nguyen explore the capabilities of multimode optical fibers, different from traditional optical fibers that transmit a single wavelength of light.

Multimode fibers allow an increase in the power of the laseralthough they tend to produce more disordered beams.

Such limitation is an important focus in current research and seeks ways to minimize light scattering and increase laser effectiveness at greater distances.

However, they tend to generate disordered beams, which reduces effectiveness over longer distances.

Development of powerful lasers can improve weapons – Image: NotjungCg/Reproduction

The research team developed a technique to minimize the scattering of light in these fibers in order to achieve a focused point, capable of transforming into a narrow, high-quality beam.

This advance promises more efficient weapons, which will be able to cause significant thermal damage and interfere with navigation systems.

Although a prototype weapon based on this technology has not yet been developed, the study opens the way to more powerful and versatile lasers, with implications beyond the military field.

For example, these advances can be used in remote sensing, which would improve the measurement of phenomena such as wind speed over long distances.

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