Technologies for using laser energy to destroy threats at a distance have been in development for many years. Today, these technologies — known as directed energy weapons — are maturing to the point of becoming deployable.
GTRI senior research scientist David Roberts developed a system to measure a laser’s power and spatial energy distribution simultaneously, which will help accelerate the development of high-energy laser systems and reduce the time required to make them operational for national security purposes. (Click image for high-resolution version. Credit: Gary Meek)
High-energy lasers — one type of directed energy weapon — can be mounted on aircraft to deliver a large amount of energy to a far-away target at the speed of light, resulting in structural and incendiary damage. These lasers can be powerful enough to destroy cruise missiles, artillery projectiles, rockets and mortar rounds.
Before these weapons can be used in the field, the lasers must be tested and evaluated at test ranges. The power and energy distribution of the high-energy laser beam must be accurately measured on a target board, with high spatial and temporal resolution.
Researchers at the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) have developed a system to measure a laser’s power and spatial energy distribution simultaneously by directing the laser b...