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Ionatron Forms Laser Group

Photonics.com
Apr 2007
TUCSON, Ariz., April 27, 2007 -- Directed-energy weapons maker Ionatron Inc. today announced it is forming a laser group to develop advanced solid-state lasers for military, aerospace and security applications.

The Ionatron Laser Group (ILG) will be based in St. Louis, Mo., and its staff will concentrate on using Ionatron's Laser Guided Energy (LGE) technology to produce compact, rugged, lightweight and highly efficient lasers, the company said.

LGE uses terawatt-class ultrashort pulse lasers coupled with proprietary high-voltage technologies to deliver high-energy electrical discharges to targets, working like "man-made lightning" to disable people or vehicles. Other military applications for high performance lasers include laser imaging, spectroscopy, communications and tactical weapon and countermeasure applications, the company said.

The group formation announcement comes two days after the company said it received a $9.8 million US Navy contract to develop an advanced ultrashort pulse laser based on LGE in collaboration with Los Alamos National Laboratories in Los Alamos, N.M., and the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, Ill.

The ILG team includes engineers and technicians with experience on military and spaceborne laser programs, such as space-launched laser radar transmitters for several Strategic Defense Initiative (“Star Wars”) experiments, the Mars Observer Laser Altimeter transmitter designed to map the surface of Mars, and several military laser rangefinder/target designators and electro-optic countermeasure transmitters, Ionatron said. More recently, they developed high performance laser transmitters for laser bathymetery and other laser radar systems.

Ionatron President and CEO Dana Marshall said, "Translating our Laser Guided Energy technology into hardware that can operate reliably on the battlefield is a unique challenge. Our recent Navy LGE contract award includes a significant laser development effort toward that goal."

Lasers are increasingly being used for defense applications, such as targeting of conventional weapons, and remote detection and identification of targets. Ionatron said it recently completed the first phase of a program for a customer to use its lasers to remotely detect and identify traces of chemicals and explosives in the atmosphere.

"While the primary impetus for the formation of this group was supporting our core technology and its implementation, the potential for leveraging this capability into the expanding market and demand for advanced lasers for other military applications provides us with another potential avenue for significant growth. We also firmly believe that many of these lasers will have commercial and industrial markets, as well as uses for homeland security and other security applications," Marshall said.

For more information, visit: www.ionatron.com


GLOSSARY
photonics
The technology of generating and harnessing light and other forms of radiant energy whose quantum unit is the photon. The science includes light emission, transmission, deflection, amplification and detection by optical components and instruments, lasers and other light sources, fiber optics, electro-optical instrumentation, related hardware and electronics, and sophisticated systems. The range of applications of photonics extends from energy generation to detection to communications and...
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