Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New System Developed to Test and Evaluate High-Energy Laser Weapons

18.08.2010
Technologies for using laser energy to destroy threats at a distance have been in development for many years. Today, these technologies -- known as directed energy weapons -- are maturing to the point of becoming deployable.

High-energy lasers -- one type of directed energy weapon -- can be mounted on aircraft to deliver a large amount of energy to a far-away target at the speed of light, resulting in structural and incendiary damage. These lasers can be powerful enough to destroy cruise missiles, artillery projectiles, rockets and mortar rounds.

Before these weapons can be used in the field, the lasers must be tested and evaluated at test ranges. The power and energy distribution of the high-energy laser beam must be accurately measured on a target board, with high spatial and temporal resolution.

Researchers at the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) have developed a system to measure a laser’s power and spatial energy distribution simultaneously by directing the laser beam onto a glass target board they designed. Ultimately, the reusable target board and beam diagnostic system will help accelerate the development of such high-energy laser systems and reduce the time required to make them operational for national security purposes.

“The high-energy laser beam delivers its energy to a small spot on the target -- only a couple inches in diameter -- but the intensity is strong enough to melt steel,” said GTRI senior research scientist David Roberts. “Our goal was to develop a method for determining how many watts of energy were hitting that area and how the energy distribution changed over time so that the lasers can be optimized.”

GTRI teamed with Leon Glebov of Orlando-based OptiGrate to design and fabricate a target board that could survive high-energy laser irradiation without changing its properties or significantly affecting the beam. The researchers selected OptiGrate’s handmade photo-thermo-refractive glass -- a sodium-zinc-aluminum-silicate glass doped with silver, cerium and fluorine -- for the target board.

“This glass is unique in that it is transparent, but also photosensitive like film so you can record holograms and other optical structures in the glass, then ‘develop’ them in a furnace,” explained Roberts.

The researchers tweaked the optical characteristics of the glass so that the board would resist degradation and laser damage. OptiGrate also had to create a new mold to produce four-inch by four-inch pieces of the glass -- a size four times larger than OptiGrate had ever made before.

During testing, the four-inch-square target board is secured between a test target and a high-energy laser, and the beam irradiance profile on the board is imaged by a remote camera. The images are then analyzed to provide a contour map showing the power density -- watts per square inch -- at every location where the beam hit the target.

“We can also simultaneously collect power measurements as a function of time with no extra equipment,” noted Roberts. “Previously, measuring the total energy delivered by the laser required a ball calorimeter and temperature measurements had to be collected as the laser heated the interior of the ball. Now we can measure the total energy along with the total power and power density anywhere inside the beam more than one hundred times per second.”

GTRI’s prototype target boards and a high-energy laser beam profiling system that uses those boards were delivered to Kirtland Air Force Base’s Laser Effects Test Facility in May. The researchers successfully demonstrated them using the facility’s 50-kilowatt fiber laser and measured power densities as high as 10,000 watts per square centimeter without damaging the beam profiler.

Scaling the system up to larger target board sizes is possible, according to Roberts.

GTRI research engineer Tim Norwood, GTRI research scientist Nathan Meraz and Georgia Tech mechanical engineering undergraduate student Matthew Vickers also contributed to this research.

This project is supported by U.S. Army Award No. N61339-06-C-0046. The content is solely the responsibility of the principal investigator and does not necessarily represent the official view of the U.S. Army

Abby Vogel Robinson | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.gatech.edu

Further reports about: GTRI High-Energy Fuel OptiGrate laser beam laser system weapons

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht Stanford researchers develop a new type of soft, growing robot
21.07.2017 | Stanford University

nachricht Team develops fast, cheap method to make supercapacitor electrodes
18.07.2017 | University of Washington

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

Im Focus: On the way to a biological alternative

A bacterial enzyme enables reactions that open up alternatives to key industrial chemical processes

The research team of Prof. Dr. Oliver Einsle at the University of Freiburg's Institute of Biochemistry has long been exploring the functioning of nitrogenase....

Im Focus: The 1 trillion tonne iceberg

Larsen C Ice Shelf rift finally breaks through

A one trillion tonne iceberg - one of the biggest ever recorded -- has calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica, after a rift in the ice,...

Im Focus: Laser-cooled ions contribute to better understanding of friction

Physics supports biology: Researchers from PTB have developed a model system to investigate friction phenomena with atomic precision

Friction: what you want from car brakes, otherwise rather a nuisance. In any case, it is useful to know as precisely as possible how friction phenomena arise –...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials

21.07.2017 | Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

The technology with a feel for feelings

12.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA looks to solar eclipse to help understand Earth's energy system

21.07.2017 | Earth Sciences

Stanford researchers develop a new type of soft, growing robot

21.07.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Vortex photons from electrons in circular motion

21.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>