Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Laser

The HEL MD that took out mortars and UAVs in flight using its vehicle-mounted 10-kW laser ...

High energy laser weapons are a hot area of research with companies including Lockheed Martin, Rheinmetall and Northrop Grumman all developing systems. Boeing is also in the mix with its High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator (HEL MD), which is being put through its paces by the US Army. Between November 18 and December 10, the HEL MD successfully took out mortar rounds and UAVs in flight, marking a first for the vehicle-mounted system.  Read More

Laser enrichment of isotopes has major potential to reduce the cost of nuclear power (Phot...

With the world’s first laser enrichment plant having received a construction and operating license from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission in 2012, the stage has been set for a radical change in the industry. So how does laser enrichment work, and what commercial benefits, along with proliferation concerns, does this new process present compared to current methods?  Read More

According to researchers, a multi-photon laser technique can be used to detect protein agg...

It is generally believed that aggregations of proteins are responsible for brain disorders such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. However, the difficulty has been in detecting the aggregates responsible and removing them from the brain. Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden and Polish Wroclaw University of Technology have found a potential solution using lasers.  Read More

50 kW CO2 laser in action (Photo: Laser Effects Test Facility - US Government)

A group of researchers at NIST working with engineers from Colorado-based Scientech has developed a new approach to measuring laser power using a mirror and a scale. This method, which measures the force on the mirror driven by the radiation pressure of the laser light, presents a more rugged and more portable solution than current meters.  Read More

The TWI 5 kw laser torch in operation (Photo: TWI)

To address the challenges encountered in decommissioning a nuclear facility, the UK-based firm TWI has since 2009 been developing laser tube-cutting methods for the UK's Nuclear Decommissioning Authority. It has now demonstrated a 5 kW fiber laser projector, configured rather like a rifle, that can be wielded by a single person.  Read More

Artist's concept of LADEE entering lunar orbit (Image: NASA)

NASA’s Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration (LLCD) experiment made history yesterday as it beamed data back to Earth from lunar orbit at previously unheard of speed for a space mission. Operating from the LADEE lunar orbiter, the LLCD used lasers to transmit data to Earth at 622 megabits per second (Mbps) as a demonstration of a technology that NASA hopes will one day not only keep up with the communications demands of future missions, but also greatly enhance their capabilities.  Read More

Fused quartz acceleration grating for the Stanford-SLAC dielectric laser electron accelera...

If Angus MacGyver was a particle physicist, he might face a challenge like this: Take a femtosecond laser and a fused quartz grating and make the world's most powerful particle accelerator. Despite the apparent incongruity of the resources and the goal, researchers at the US Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford University have fabricated a proof-of-principle electron accelerator using just such equipment. In the demonstration, electrons from a 60 MeV beam saw a force of acceleration about ten times greater than possible in a conventional accelerator.  Read More

The CSIRO's scan of the Leaning Tower of Pisa was completed in under 20 minutes

Researchers at Australia's national science agency, the CSIRO, have developed Zebedee, a spring-mounted 3D laser scanner and mapper capable of scanning complicated interiors in double-quick time. The researchers were able to scan the "cramped and complex" interior of the Leaning Tower of Pisa which, the CSIRO claims, has not been possible with previous 3D scanning technology. But more significantly, the researchers were able to complete the scan in under 20 minutes.  Read More

Boeing Thin Disk Laser engineers and the laser's main optical bench (Photo: Boeing)

The likelihood of lasers appearing on the battlefield was boosted last week when Boeing announced that its Thin Disk Laser system had achieved unexpected levels of power and efficiency. In a recent demonstration for the US Department of Defense, the laser’s output was 30 percent higher than project requirements and had greater beam quality, a result which paves the way toward a practical tactical laser weapon.  Read More

Levitating a nanodiamond with a laser could have implications for quantum computing (Photo...

A recent experiment by researchers at the University of Rochester has managed to suspend a nano-sized diamond in free space with a laser and measure light emitted from it. Like the scientists who recently managed to freeze light in a crystal for up to a minute, these scholars believe their work has applications in the field of quantum computing.  Read More

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