Another Awesome Virginia Accomplishment

Add another accolade to Virginia’s list of accomplishments: weaponizing the laser. It looks like the U.S. Navy is going to build a battlefield-strength laser based on technology developed at the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility in Newport News. As Noah Shachtman explains in the Danger Room blog:

The Navy is interested in the FEL because most other lasers lose strength as they move through — and get absorbed by — the atmosphere. That’s especially in moist environments; around the sea, for instance. But the FEL can pick particular slices of the spectrum where the absorption won’t be nearly as bad.

For decades, though, the problem was that no one could get the FEL the shine much stronger than a lightbulb. During the Star Wars era, the government sank ten years and a half a billion into a FEL. All it could only muster a meager 11 watts.

That changed in recent years, when researchers at the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility managed to assemble an FEL that hit 10,000 watts, or 10 kilowatts, in 2004. (The video, above, is of the Jefferson FEL in action.) The group got to 14 kilowatts two years later, and is now aiming for 20.

The Navy will use the laser to knock out enemy rockets — conceivably enemy ICBM missiles.

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One response to “Another Awesome Virginia Accomplishment”

  1. Groveton Avatar

    Kudos to the gang at the lab down in Tidewater.

    Hopefully, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is staying current with his YouTube viewing.

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