Boeing may be well known for creating aircraft, but they have also been focusing on creating a new laser system. Boeing have announced that their Thin Disk Laser system had achieved unexpected levels of power and efficiency.
The company held a recent demonstration for the US Department of Defense and showed a 30 percent high than project requirement laser output. The results indicate that there is potential to use this in the future on the battlefield.
The Boeing laser system uses a thin disc laser which is also known as an active mirror laser based on technology first developed in the 1990’s. The Thin Disk laser uses a layer of lasing material with a thickness less than the diameter of the beam it produces however. This layer acts as the amplifier of the laser and the mirror that reflects the beam.
In behind this layer is a thick substrate which performs as a heat sink. The heat is drawn away quickly, increasing the laser’s power and efficiency. Boeing’s system incorporates a multitude of high powered industrial lasers to create a single, high energy beam.
Boeing claim that the laser has an output greater than 30kW – translating into 30 percent more than the Department of Defense’s Robust Electric Laser Initiative (RELI) requirements.
Michael Rinn, Boeing Directed Energy Systems vice president and program director said “These demonstrations prove the military utility of laser systems. In order to be truly viable as a weapons-class system, a laser must achieve high brightness while simultaneously remaining efficient at higher power. Our team has shown that we have the necessary power, the beam quality, and the efficiency to deliver such a system to the battlefield.”
More information is available here.
Kitguru says: Will laser weapons ever replace traditional guns? Probably not in our lifetime.