MIT Lincoln Lab spinout unveils new more powerful direct-diode laser

Jul 08, 2011 by Bob Yirka report

(PhysOrg.com) -- TeraDiode, a spinout company from MIT Lincoln Lab and located nearby in Littleton, MA, has unveiled, a new powerful direct-diode laser capable of cutting all the way through steel up to half an inch thick at various speeds. The laser is based on technology developed by company co-founders Dr. Bien Chann and Dr. Robin Huang while still at MIT.

The new is based on , which means it uses , rather than chemicals, and employs an optical system that directs multiple individual beams into one single stronger one, and, according to the company website, the laser has "revolutionary TeraDrive technology" that has "coupled 1000 watts into a 200 um, 0.18 NA fiber." Which means, it is assumed, that they believe they have succeeded in creating the most powerful direct-diode laser ever; one that is also brighter and more focused than those that came before it.

The bottom line here appears to be that the company has put together that when deployed, will be smaller than others that have similar strength, and will be both more compact, and more efficient; making it perhaps, at last, suitable for creating laser guns like we’ve been seeing in science-fiction movies for years.

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TeraDiode Laser Cutting and Welding demo.

Company CEO David Sossen says that the new laser breaks through the limiting factors that have held back the use of truly powerful lasers in all but manufacturing pursuits; namely, the inefficiencies and huge power appetites normally associated with powerful lasers, and can “output between several hundred and several thousand , and in principle up to 100 kilowatts,” all in a package that is smaller than other laser systems currently available.

The company makes clear it sees its new technology as not just a new tool for manufacturing, but as a future weapon that could be placed aboard a tank or ship in perhaps as few as five years. In the meantime, the company says it will be focusing on testing the new technology to see if it might be used in missile defense, such as connecting it to the back of a fighter plane to stymie the technology in heat-seeking weapons currently used in anti-aircraft missiles, or better yet, to simply destroy them.

Explore further: Researchers propose network-based evaluation tool to assess relief operations feasibility

More information: teradiode.com/

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User comments : 32

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plaasjaapie
1 / 5 (3) Jul 08, 2011
Whoa! :-)
El_Nose
1 / 5 (1) Jul 08, 2011
a laser tank??? now that it has been said - it will probably happen... wow -- i think the world just pooped its pants a little
jscroft
1 / 5 (1) Jul 08, 2011
Haha you hit it right on el nose!
socean
4.3 / 5 (6) Jul 08, 2011
What about using it for line-of-sight power transfer? How about a laser based electrical grid that pulses power where and when its needed?
nizzim
4 / 5 (2) Jul 08, 2011
Soon enough it'll be on a soldiers back in the middle east. Imagine that connected to a targeting system how could you miss with light speed! I also imagine predator like shoulder fire pew pew lazors
Solego
3.7 / 5 (3) Jul 08, 2011
I like where your head is at Socean. That would be a really neat system, and it seems pretty feasible with this kind of technology. Sucks to be the birds though. Try to land on that power line...
J-n
3.5 / 5 (4) Jul 08, 2011
I dunno, a weapon without a huge bang and low per fire costs may not fly with the current US military.
Telekinetic
1.7 / 5 (6) Jul 08, 2011
Safecrackers rejoice!
Arkaleus
2.4 / 5 (5) Jul 08, 2011
One of the important things to realize about energy weapons is that once you rise above a certain energy density armor becomes irrelevant.
DGBEACH
2.5 / 5 (2) Jul 08, 2011
Soon enough it'll be on a soldiers back in the middle east. Imagine that connected to a targeting system how could you miss with light speed! I also imagine predator like shoulder fire pew pew lazors

How light could a 1000-watt-capable power supply be? Probably too heavy for a non-exoskeleton-assisted soldier to carry in battle. Maybe mounted onto a robot. Wow! "lasers in the jungle" James Coburn was right :)
quasi44
4.7 / 5 (3) Jul 08, 2011
One of the important things to realize about energy weapons is that once you rise above a certain energy density armor becomes irrelevant.

Hardly. Once others start tearing these apart, it won't be long until some kind of albedo armor is produced to counter it. Supply and demand; we wanted this and we got it. The pendulum will now swing the other way. I'll guarantee you won't get one of our Marines or Armored Cavalry officers to say this won't be countered, because they know better.
Telekinetic
1.5 / 5 (4) Jul 08, 2011
I used to restore knight's armor in a well known museum. In its day, the quality and protectiveness of this armor was unparalleled- until the crossbow bolt came along.
syhprum
4.8 / 5 (5) Jul 09, 2011
What a good idea to suggest that it might be useful for killing people that will bring research funds rolling in.
KBK
4 / 5 (1) Jul 09, 2011
What a good idea to suggest that it might be useful for killing people that will bring research funds rolling in.


Anything that you see in the civilian arena of such strong potential use, is already well far advanced in the context of weapons systems.
ClickHere
4 / 5 (1) Jul 09, 2011
There are lithium ion batteries user in remote controlled planes capable of delivering 1000 watt for minutes at a time.
Sonhouse
not rated yet Jul 09, 2011
Are you talking about the drones we use? They are not that small, but the latest generation of battery plus ultracapacitor could be light enough for ground troops. You might make mirrors for tanks but ground troops? Kind of unlikely you could protect them very well. 1000 watts sounds like a lot of power but it would depend on how long the laser has to be turned on to do damage. For instance, if it only needed to be on for a millisecond, then 1000 watts could be provided by a one watt battery, which would store the energy in a capacitor and discharge it all in one millisecond. Probably 1 millisecond would not produce much damage unless the power was closer to the megawatt level but that illustrates the effect. If it could do damage in 1/10th of a second, then a 10 watt battery could power such a device, but one shot every ten seconds. A 500 watt battery could do one shot per 2 seconds and so forth. A 10 kilowatt battery/ultracap supply could do 10 1 kw shots per second.
Sonhouse
not rated yet Jul 09, 2011
I'm sure there will be a lot of research on making such power supplies viable for ground troops, like advanced fuel cells using alcohol as fuel for instance. Eventually it might even make it to a laser rifle at a K mart near you!
Sonhouse
5 / 5 (1) Jul 09, 2011
The optics of such a device are of supreme importance, since you need to keep the beam as fine as possible at the target distance. Even if your laser rifle had a divergence of one arcsecond, might be possible if it had a 6 inch parabolic mirror, the stated size of 200 micron size beam would be more like 8 or 10 millimeters wide at one mile so the density per square micron would be way down, requiring a much longer time on target to do damage. I think the ship board lasers use a much larger mirror and have already demonstrated the ability to kill a boat motor several kilometers away but that was something more like a 100 kilowatt laser beam running continuously for several seconds, so a laser rifle would have a lot shorter range than a regular military rifle it would seem.
mrlewish
not rated yet Jul 09, 2011
Yeah. Good luck holding that laser on target at 1000 meters. or 100 meters. Wasn't a laser that destroyed the dinosaurs. It was a large projectile. Good luck on getting that laser through ceramics quickly.
dogbert
2.3 / 5 (6) Jul 09, 2011
Such lasers do have a large military potential, but they also have a large communications potential.

How about use in hydrogen fusion? Multiple low energy consuming lasers with high outputs could perhaps deliver an energy gain from fusion systems.
sstritt
1 / 5 (4) Jul 09, 2011
I know what a spinoff company is, but what's a "spinout" company?
Thex1138
1 / 5 (1) Jul 10, 2011
Cutting edge.
Sonhouse
3 / 5 (1) Jul 10, 2011
Another factor to consider is this: the laser may put out 1000 watts or so but the inefficiencies in the system would mean it probably takes at least 2000 watts to get that 1000 watt beam, that assumes a 50% power efficient laser. It could be 30 percent, in that case the power required would be closer to 3000 watts.
Newbeak
not rated yet Jul 10, 2011
What about using it for line-of-sight power transfer? How about a laser based electrical grid that pulses power where and when its needed?

I wonder if that would be equivalent to power transfer via microwaves,which has been proposed as the means to deliver power from solar satellites to the ground.There would be inevitable losses with both systems.
Newbeak
not rated yet Jul 10, 2011
Such lasers do have a large military potential, but they also have a large communications potential.

How about use in hydrogen fusion? Multiple low energy consuming lasers with high outputs could perhaps deliver an energy gain from fusion systems.

Are you referring to implosion fusion? Yes,perhaps this new laser would reduce the size of such a system..
dogbert
1.8 / 5 (5) Jul 10, 2011
Yes, I was thinking that more efficient lasers might tip the scales making implosion fusion practical.
Newbeak
not rated yet Jul 10, 2011
Yes, I was thinking that more efficient lasers might tip the scales making implosion fusion practical.

And inertial confinement is probably going to produce a practical reactor sooner than a Tokamak type reactor.I recall a physicist describing the process of plasma confinement as being more difficult than confining Jello in a cage of rubber bands.
tarheelchief
not rated yet Jul 11, 2011
Cutting this big a piece of steel means it would be invaluable at a shipyard,or at a Caterpillar factory.
jscroft
1 / 5 (1) Jul 11, 2011
Another factor to consider is this: the laser may put out 1000 watts or so but the inefficiencies in the system would mean it probably takes at least 2000 watts to get that 1000 watt beam, that assumes a 50% power efficient laser. It could be 30 percent, in that case the power required would be closer to 3000 watts.


That's a LOT of waste heat!
that_guy
not rated yet Jul 16, 2011
Such lasers do have a large military potential, but they also have a large communications potential.

How about use in hydrogen fusion? Multiple low energy consuming lasers with high outputs could perhaps deliver an energy gain from fusion systems.

hey, look at that, a relevant comment from dogbert.

Been a while since I've seen one of those.
Newbeak
1 / 5 (1) Jul 16, 2011
Such lasers do have a large military potential, but they also have a large communications potential.

How about use in hydrogen fusion? Multiple low energy consuming lasers with high outputs could perhaps deliver an energy gain from fusion systems.

hey, look at that, a relevant comment from dogbert.

Been a while since I've seen one of those.

Now girls,be nice,no fighting!
that_guy
not rated yet Jul 16, 2011
Who's fighting? I was pointing out that it was nice to hear something that both makes some sense and looks ahead from him, rather than some political crap.

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