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Laser

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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Space communications have relied on radio since the first Sputnik in 1957. It’s a mature, reliable technology, but it’s reaching its limits. The amount of data sent has increased exponentially for decades and NASA expects the trend to continue. The current communications systems are reaching their limits, so NASA and ESA are going beyond radio as a solution. As part of this effort, ESA has finished tests of part of a new communications system, in preparations for a demonstration in October in which it will receive a laser data download from a NASA lunar orbiter. Read More

Michigan-based Sintercore is billing its Auxetik as the first commercial 3D printed firearm muzzle brake. Made of Inconel alloy using a laser additive manufacturing process, the Auxetik is designed to tame the recoil and muzzle rise of AR-15 pistols. Read More

In internet engineering, there’s a problem called the “last half mile," which looks at how to connect users to high-speed fiber optic networks without going through old-fashioned copper wires that can slow data down to a crawl. NASA has more of a “last 250 miles” problem in making data connections with the International Space Station (ISS). The upcoming Optical Payload for Lasercomm Science (OPALS) project is an optical technology demonstration for using lasers to improve communications with the ISS and other spacecraft in hopes of boosting connection speeds by a factor of 10 to 100. Read More
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