It appears that China is the latest country to make a breakthrough in the development of laser technology – particularly with military applications. The Chinese research team created the blueprint for a laser the size of a suitcase that can destroy heat-seeking sensors on missiles and satellites. Rather than only being used on large warships, as they currently are, these small devices can, in theory, be used in tanks, aircraft and possibly even on the backs of soldiers.
Presently, today’s high-frequency lasers that are used to destroy enemy missiles are large and cumbersome – so much so that they are only found on battleships. Now a research team led by Professor Li Zhiyuan with the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Physics has reported that they have reduced the high-frequency laser generating mechanism down to a single crystal.
The result: An ultrafast laser generator literally can be shrunk down to the size of a handbag.
Li Qiang, a professor of laser optics at Beijing’s Tsinghua University proclaimed that, “This is a groundbreaking achievement. Nobody has generated a laser at such a high frequency on a single piece of crystal before. Their technology will significantly simplify the process of ultrafast laser production and reduce the size of relevant devices.”
Despite decades of research and development, scientists have thus failed in producing an ultrafast laser device that can be used outside of a laboratory. Despite these troubles, countries still spend significant time and money in trying to develop the technology for military purposes.
The basis for the importance of this type of laser is that it is much easier to use a small, ultrafast laser to destroy the tiny heat-seeking sensors of missiles rather than use a laser to destroy the thick shell of the missiles themselves.
Another application of the ultrafast laser is to detect stealth aircraft and to seek and destroy encrypted data communications.
Li’s research team has claimed that they have solved the problem resulting from huge and cumbersome lasers possessing extremely sensitive components. The team’s published report states that the highly scientific technological development “hints at a very promising means for greatly expanding the power” of lasers.
Liu pointed out that, “If [Li’s team] can achieve the efficiency they claim, I think their technology can be quickly deployed in field applications.”
China’s development of this technology means that the rest of the world, including the United States, will scramble to keep up.