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Laser Ship Defense Milestone

Photonics Spectra
May 2011
At Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, scientists in the Office of Naval Research’s Free-Electron Laser (FEL) program have achieved a breakthrough in ship protection. They demonstrated an injector that can produce the electrons needed to generate megawatt-class laser beams for the Navy’s next-generation weapon system. They are working to measure the properties of the continuous electron beams and hope to set a world record for the average current of electrons. The FEL is expected to provide future US Naval forces with a near-instantaneous laser ship defense. The laser works by passing a beam of high-energy electrons generated by an injector through a series of strong magnetic fields, causing an intense emission of laser light. The Office of Naval Research hopes to test the FEL in a maritime environment by 2018.


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