By Evan Ackerman
With everyone and their dog having personal laser pointers, why is it taking so long for the defense industry to produce a laser that’s actually capable of, you know, blowing stuff up? The problem is that most researchers are trying to pump up single beam generators into the range of 100 kilowatts, which is considered to be the minimum effective strength for a battlefield laser. Raytheon got fed up waiting, and built a fiber laser of only 20 kilowatts that was nonetheless able to detonate 60mm mortar rounds at a range of 500 yards. How? By having terrible beam quality.
While everyone else is trying to cram the most energy into the tightest beam, Raytheon just clumped a bunch of lower power lasers into a wider beam, which turned out to more effectively heat the mortar up causing it to explode, whereas a tight, high powered beam might punch a hole right through it. Next up: blowing up mortar rounds in flight by mounting the laser on a Phalanx platform.
Video goodness after the jump.
VIA [ Danger Room ]