Aculight 30-kW Fiber Laser Could Enhance Military Weapons Systems
BOTHELL, Wash., Feb. 4, 2014 — The successful demonstration of a 30 kW electric fiber laser marks a significant milestone toward the deployment of a mission-relevant laser weapons system for the military. Developed by Lockheed Martin’s Aculight Laser Solutions unit, it is the highest-power laser documented to retain beam quality and electrical efficiency.
In a process called “spectral beam combining,” the researchers sent beams from multiple fiber laser modules, each with a unique wavelength, into a combiner that formed a single, powerful, high-quality beam while using about 50 percent less electricity than solid-state laser technologies.
“The high-energy laser serves as the heart of a laser weapon system,” said Ray O. Johnson, senior vice president and chief technology officer of Lockheed Martin.
Prior laser weapons demonstrations have shown target acquisition, tracking and destruction. However, those solutions were limited for tactical military use because their laser inefficiencies drove significant size, power and cooling needs that were not readily supported by key military ground and airborne platforms.
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- fiber laser
- A laser in which the lasing medium is an optical fiber doped with low levels of rare-earth halides to make it capable of amplifying light. Output is tunable over a broad range and can be broadband. Laser diodes can be used for pumping because of the fiber laser's low threshold power, eliminating the need for cooling.
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