Scientists specializing in optics at the University of Arizona and the University of Central Florida are developing breakthrough laser technology that will divert dangerous electrical discharges generated by thunderstorms away from buildings.
Funded by a five-year, $7.5 million U.S. Department of Defense grant, a team of researchers led by UA mathematician and optical scientist Jerome Moloney is working on perfecting ground-breaking laser technology that will also benefit a variety of industries including the military and consumer electronics manufacturers.
Traditional attempts at beaming lasers through the atmosphere were hampered by a phenomena known as diffraction, which occurs when light bends and diffuses as it passes through an opening or encounters an obstacle that causes an interference of waves. Put simply, and up until now, laser beams could only travel a few inches, or a few feet at best, before experiencing a significant degradation of strength and intensity.
According to a UA News article, “the breakthrough lies in embedding the primary, high-intensity laser beam inside a second beam of lower intensity. As the primary beam travels through the air, the second beam – called dress beam – refuels it with energy and sustains the primary beam.”
Although the carrot is saving humanity from deadly lightening strikes, the stick no doubt will involve precision strikes against enemy combatants and unsuspecting…well, you get the idea.