535 views
0

WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF

Plenty of companies are developing new laser and direct energy weapons systems but none have ever managed to create one, that might be about to change.

 

Deflector shields are the stuff of science fiction – whether it’s the rippling green shields that saw off Will Smith’s F/A-18’s in Independence Day or the Star Trek shields that batted off the Klingons advances. But until now they remained just that – science fiction.

Now, scientists at BAE Systems believe a new type of directed energy laser and lens system that manipulates the atmosphere could make such devices a reality, and in as little as fifty years from now.

 

RELATED
Futurist in London: The Future of Blockchain, Marketforce Blockchain Summit

 

Known as the Laser Developed Atmospheric Lens (LDAL) the concept works by simulating naturally occurring phenomena that temporarily alters small parts of the Earth’s atmosphere to create lens like structures that magnify or alter the path of electromagnetic waves – including radio signals and light.

According to BAE, a lens generated in this way could be used as a type of deflector shield to protect aircraft, land vehicles, troops, and ships from assault by high powered laser weapons.

LDAL’s prime purpose, however, is to enable better electromagnetic communications by re-creating a number of naturally occurring effects, such as the reflective atmospheric effects found in the ionosphere and the kind that are behind some of the more quirky atmospheric phenomenon such as desert mirages. LDAL mimics many of these effects by using high powered lasers to heat parts of the atmosphere which helps to create highly reflective areas, such as the ionosphere, or areas where light can be bent at will, such as is the case with desert mirages.

 

 

Using these techniques LDAL would allow operators to send high frequency signals further than ever before, or produce localized, Fresnel lens like refractive areas that bend electromagnetic waves to a specific point on Earth – even when the direction was at a completely different angle to the original waves.

The system takes advantage of the “Kerr Effect,” an optical phenomenon that occurs when intense light is transmitted through media such as glass or, in this case, gases in the atmosphere, that alters the media’s refractive index, to temporarily ionize a small patch of atmosphere in a way that allows the air to simulate mirrors, glass lenses, and structures like Fresnel zone plates that diffract light.

 

RELATED
Amazon Prime Air completes its first UK commercial drone delivery

 

“Working with some of the best scientific minds in the UK, we’re able to incorporate emerging and disruptive technologies and evolve the landscape of potential military technologies in ways that, five or ten years ago, many would never have dreamed possible,” said Professor Nick Colosimo, BAE Systems’ Futurist and Technologist.

While other companies, such as General Atomics, Lockheed Martin and Northrup Grumman are also developing laser and direct energy weapons systems this is the first time a company has thought about using a laser system to create a deflector shield that protects assets from laser weapons, and while it’s merely a concept at this stage the science is sound. However, there is also a flip side to this new concept as well, and the theory goes that if you can bend light and extend the range of sensor systems then it also becomes a superb global spying tool… Ah, science – you’ve got t love it!

About author

Matthew Griffin

Matthew Griffin, Futurist and Founder of the 311 Institute is described as “The Adviser behind the Advisers.” Among other things Matthew keeps busy helping the world’s largest smartphone manufacturers ideate the next five generations of smartphones, and what comes beyond, the world’s largest chip makers envision the next twenty years of intelligent machines, and is helping Europe’s largest energy companies re-invent energy generation, transmission and retail.

Recognised in 2013, 2015 and 2016 as one of Europe’s foremost futurists, innovation and strategy experts Matthew is an award winning author, entrepreneur and international speaker who has been featured on the BBC, Discovery and other outlets. Working hand in hand with accelerators, investors, governments, multi-nationals and regulators around the world Matthew helps them envision the future and helps them transform their industries, products and go to market strategies, and shows them how the combination of new, democratised, powerful emerging technologies are helping accelerate cultural, industrial and societal change.

Matthew’s clients include Accenture, Bain & Co, Bank of America, Blackrock, Booz Allen Hamilton, Boston Consulting Group, Dell EMC, Dentons, Deutsche Bank, Deloitte, Deutsche Bank, Du Pont, E&Y, Fidelity, Goldman Sachs, HPE, Huawei, JP Morgan Chase, KPMG, Lloyds Banking Group, McKinsey & Co, PWC, Qualcomm, Rolls Royce, SAP, Samsung, Schroeder’s, Sequoia Capital, Sopra Steria, UBS, the UK’s HM Treasury, the USAF and many others.

Comments
  • Berkant Göksel#3

    21st November 2017

    Do you have any plans for the release of the new Star Wars movie? What about a working laser plasma lightsaber. 🙂

    Reply
  • Prof. Nick Colosimo CEng FIET FIKE#4

    21st November 2017

    Always got to think one step ahead to seize the opportunities, mitigate the threats, and spend time being thoughtful about the implications.

    Reply
  • Laser Haas#5

    21st November 2017

    WOW

    Reply
  • Patrick O’Leary#6

    21st November 2017

    ! and we only have to wait 50 years for it !

    Reply
    • Prof. Nick Colosimo CEng FIET FIKE#7

      21st November 2017

      Completely different proposition. These effects using PPLs already demonstrated in the lab to an extent. Challenge is scaling up and the engineering.

      Reply
  • David D’Souza#8

    21st November 2017

    That has a certain ring to it … The Empire Strikes Back !

    Reply
  • Chetan Lad#9

    21st November 2017

    Nicely in time for the new Star Wars film!

    Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *