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Shark The Military Technology

New Approach For Laser Weapons 188

An anonymous reader writes "Laser guns and other 'directed energy weapons' have remained in sci-fi lore because of their inefficiency, bulkiness, and poor beam quality. Now an MIT Lincoln Lab spinoff called TeraDiode is developing a diode laser that uses 'wavelength beam combining' to create what it calls the brightest and most powerful laser of its kind. The two-year-old company, backed by $3 million from the U.S. Department of Defense and $4 million from venture capitalists, is working on a compact airborne laser system for planes to shoot down heat-seeking missiles. Eventually, the lasers could be mounted on a tank or ship to destroy enemy UAVs or even incoming artillery shells. That's still at least three to five years away, but with advances in semiconductor lasers there seems to be quite a renewed interest in weaponry."
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New Approach For Laser Weapons

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  • I would think a shield could be created to protect against UAV's. It would be possible to just create a laser net around a certain area as a defense shield.

    How effective would it be?

    • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) *
      I will fail to mention that FLIR cannot see though glass...
    • None of this is going to be terribly effective. All you have to do to thwart this system is coat the thing in retro-reflective paint like an industrial version of the striping on traffic cones and stuff. If the target can reflect the incoming photothermal energy instead of absorbing it, the laser no longer works as intended.

      • Reflective surfaces tend to be ineffective at the energies employed by a weaponized laser. Even if 99.99% of the energy is reflected, 0.01% is still plenty to raise the temperature of the surface, and even the most reflective surfaces tend to become dull as the temperature increases. Coating every potential target with the premium optics-grade mirrors necessary to deflect enough of the beam to avoid such heating would most likely be far more expensive than the laser you're defending against.

        • Laboratory-grade surfaces are needed to reflect laboratory-grade laser intensities, like GW/m^2 cw, or much higher for brief exposures.

          What's the highest power laser you can deploy in the field? What's the tightest beam you can fire a km or so at a target after accounting for diffraction? These are not the kinds of numbers that give you instant vaporization of your target.

        • by EdIII ( 1114411 )

          Not to mention, more than likely, this stuff will be deployed to a desert.

          Those premium optics-grade mirrors better be coated with much better shit than you can get at your local prescription eyeglasses store. Coating each one of them with something harder than any dust particle will be quite expensive indeed.

          Of course, that just means a half billion per drone. From the state of affairs in the US the military industrial complex it gets whatever money it wants anyways......

          Let me know when they figure out

      • IT depends on the power and wave length of the laser, and the heat properties of the material used to deflect it.

        A laser can cut through a mirror in case you were wondering. Not reflective surface will be purely reflective in all wavelengths.

      • by delt0r ( 999393 )
        Smoke. What about plain old smoke. Now a smoke grenade is real cover.
    • You can order it from the ACME catalog.

      http://www.neatorama.com/2008/05/14/the-original-acme-catalog/ [neatorama.com]

  • by davegravy ( 1019182 ) on Tuesday July 05, 2011 @05:15PM (#36665804)

    They're calling it the most powerful laser of it's kind, and it's a new kind of laser...

  • Only Boeing's will cost a litthttp://news.slashdot.org/story/11/07/05/2033259/New-Approach-For-Laser-Weapons#le more than 22 times their 7 million and all paid by the US Government.
  • only, what cutsie misspelling should they use when creating the marketing name for it?


  • UAVs or even artillery shells?
    • You mean the current Global War on Terror (tm) theaters are the last wars that will ever be fought by the United States? You're remarkably optimistic... or potentially just an idiot.
  • Now we can kill each other better...

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not Pollyanna. I believe we need the ability to defend ourselves against the world's jerks. It's just... sometimes I really wished we could work more towards helping each other than hurting each other. It kind of wears on you after a while.

    • by MacGyver2210 ( 1053110 ) on Tuesday July 05, 2011 @05:43PM (#36666090)

      Dude, we ARE the world's jerks.

      • ... and he is us.

        The scary part isn't I remember reading that Pogo when it first appeared in newspapers. It's that it's just as true as it ever was.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Dude, we ARE the world's jerks.

        I think that's overly simplistic. The U.S. does lots of jerky things. But I think there's no shortage of non-U.S. jerks who would take over any land that they felt they could successfully conquer. ( China/Tibet and Russia/Georgia are two recent examples. )

        • I think that's overly simplistic.

          Well we do watch a lot of preachy sci-fi. The problem with everybody holding hands and singing songs about peace love and harmony is that the guy with stick gets his way un-challenged. Doctor Who hasn't covered that, yet.

        • China and Russia are dealing with their boarders, much like the USA's military involvement in Mexico and South America.

          If china went half way around the world and took over a country like Egypt, then i guess you could consider it the same as what America did attacking Iraq.

          face it, America are the jerks of the world.
        • I think that's overly simplistic

          Pussies think everyone can get along and dicks just wanna fuck all the time without thinking it through.

          But then you got your assholes, Chuck. And all the assholes want is to shit all over everything.

          So pussies may get mad at dicks once in a while because pussies get fucked by dicks.

          But dicks also fuck assholes, Chuck.

          And if they didn't fuck the assholes, you know what you'd get?

          You'd get your dick and your pussy all covered in shit!

    • by afidel ( 530433 )
      Right now an effective anti mortar and rocket system could be saving a LOT of lives in Misurata and the other cities Ghadafi has been sieging. Heck if we could effectively stop his offense it would even save lives on his side as we wouldn't have a reason to bomb his armor columns.
      • by DoofusOfDeath ( 636671 ) on Tuesday July 05, 2011 @06:23PM (#36666482)

        Right now an effective anti mortar and rocket system could be saving a LOT of lives in Misurata and the other cities Ghadafi has been sieging. Heck if we could effectively stop his offense it would even save lives on his side as we wouldn't have a reason to bomb his armor columns.

        I don't doubt that. But I'm just guessing that if that $7M+ could have been spent on malaria research, cancer research, water purification systems, etc., there could have been more lives saved. If Libya was at peace, that is, which goes back to my main point.

        • by delt0r ( 999393 )
          7M in each of these fields wouldn't make much difference. Since well they already get a lot, or already work so well. Sometimes its not a question of money.
  • So, what's the chance this could be used by terrorists to shoot down commercial airliners?
  • Just bring back the New Jersey class and the 16 inch AP shells. I doubt that a laser would have much effect on them :)

  • by kmac06 ( 608921 ) on Tuesday July 05, 2011 @05:35PM (#36666020)
    There's no technical information here, just that they can now make a more powerful diode laser. More info here [teradiode.com].
    • Which is still extremely useful tech, even if the weapons application turns out to be just a fruitless route to attract free money for the government if they can make smaller, cheaper, more powerful and more efficient lasers, they'll have no shortage of potential customers.
  • That's great! I'll be ready with the massive popcorn pan in 5 years! I should get started soon, maybe Jordan can come over and help me, she never sleeps.

  • From the side?

  • I am sad that anything that involves lasers is automatically an Austin Powers Shark joke. Real Genius is by far the better and funnier movie. Please help endorse the correct kind of nostalgic references.

    This is clearly objectively correct and in no way affected by my bias for and love of Real Genius. I don't care that it was probably the only movie I've ever seen that included real hacking and appropriate technology references.

    Won't somebody think of the children?

    Also get off my lawn.

  • Eventually, the lasers could be mounted on a tank or ship to destroy enemy UAVs or even incoming artillery shells.

    I can see this resulting in a lot of dead birds in the future.

  • The Crossbow Project: There's no defense like a good offense.

  • Recently the navy "disabled" (i.e. caught on fire) a small ship using a high-power solid-state laser (video here [wired.co.uk])

  • I'm perfecting a new kind of mirror that's far more efficient than old mirrors...

The human mind ordinarily operates at only ten percent of its capacity -- the rest is overhead for the operating system.