Laser Research Part 2

Physicists are planning to build lasers so powerful they could rip apart empty space

Jan. 24, 2018

  • Inside a cramped laboratory in Shanghai, China, physicist Ruxin Li and colleagues are breaking records with the most powerful pulses of light the world has ever seen. At the heart of their laser, called the Shanghai Superintense Ultrafast Laser Facility (SULF), is a single cylinder of titanium-doped sapphire about the width of a Frisbee. After kindling light in the crystal and shunting it through a system of lenses and mirrors, the SULF distills it into pulses of mind-boggling power. In 2016, it achieved an unprecedented 5.3 million billion watts, or petawatts (PW). The lights in Shanghai do not dim each time the laser fires, however. Although the pulses are extraordinarily powerful, they are also infinitesimally brief, lasting less than a trillionth of a second. The researchers are now upgrading their laser and hope to beat their own record by the end of this year with a 10-PW shot, which would pack more than 1000 times the power of all the world’s electrical grids combined. The Chinese group is “definitely leading the way” to 100 PW, says Philip Bucksbaum, an atomic physicist at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. But there is plenty of competition. In the next few years, 10-PW devices should switch on in Romania and the Czech Republic as part of Europe’s Extreme Light Infrastructure, although the project recently put off its goal of building a 100-PW-scale device. Physicists in Russia have drawn up a design for a 180-PW laser known as the Exawatt Center for Extreme Light Studies (XCELS), while Japanese researchers have put forward proposals for a 30-PW device.

Could a Chinese Space Junk Laser Double as a Weapon?

Jan 17, 2018

  • There are two reactions to a paper regarding space junk that was published this week by researchers at China’s Air Force Engineering University. One, it seems good that the spacefaring nations of the world are considering ways to clean up an increasingly cluttered low Earth orbit. And the Chinese are putting forward a new plan, one that proposes to use a laser to zap the debris. Then there’s the other reaction—maybe it’s not just about space junk. There’s been a lot of talk in Washington D.C. and Asia about China’s increasing military posture when it comes to space. The 2017 U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, which is appointed by Congress, reported that China is very interested in shooting down U.S. satellites. There are many ways to do this: launch a suicide sat to collide with the target, shoot sats with lasers from the ground or jam them with dazzling light and electronic noise. China, the commission says, is working on all of these methods—and more.

China’s Plan To Deal With Space Junk Sounds Like A James Bond Film


  • Now a team of Chinese researchers have started looking at what would happen if we sent a laser into space to deal with the issue (apart from making them feel like a James Bond villain).

China unveils anti-terror laser gun


  • China has developed a new counter-terrorism laser gun capable of hitting the targets within 200 meters in just one second, the company which developed the equipment said Thursday. Hongfeng, a company affiliated with China Aerospace Science & Industry Corporation (CASIC), first exhibited the laser gun at a counter-terrorism drill in Central China’s Hunan Province, according to a statement sent to the Global Times by CASIC on Thursday. It has a handset for aiming and a back pack containing the power supply, a remote control and laser emitter.

Ultra-High Intensity Laser Sparks New Behavior in Light

Jun 27, 2017

  • By focusing laser light to brightness one billion times greater than the surface of the Sun, a team of physicists from the United States and China has observed changes in a vision-enabling interaction between light and matter. Those changes yielded unique X-ray pulses with the potential to generate extremely high-resolution imagery useful for medical, engineering, scientific and security purposes.

Synopsis: Neutrons On-Demand from Laser Fusion

April 19, 2017

  • Neutron sources have many uses: from probing the interior of a material to locating underground mineral resources. Laser-driven fusion reactions are one way to produce neutrons, but current techniques are either inefficient or unreliable. Jie Liu of the Institute of Applied Physics and Computational Mathematics in China and colleagues have developed a robust new scheme that uses lasers to induce fusion reactions in a capsule containing heavy hydrogen fuel. In preliminary tests, this method produced around a billion neutrons per laser shot, which is a factor of 100 better than similar methods.

Get Ready for China’s Laser-Weapons Arsenal

April 12, 2017

  • China’s military is developing powerful lasers, electromagnetic railguns and high-power microwave weapons for use in a future “light war” involving space-based attacks on satellites. Beijing’s push to produce so-called directed-energy weapons aims to neutralize America’s key strategic advantage: the web of intelligence, communication and navigation satellites enabling military strikes of unparalleled precision expeditionary warfare far from US shores. The idea of a space-based laser gun was disclosed in the journal Chinese Optics in December 2013 by three researchers, Gao Ming-hui, Zeng Yu-quang and Wang Zhi-hong. All work for the Changchun Institute for Optics, Fine Mechanics and Physics – the leading center for laser weapons technology.

China Southern Airlines launches first flight to Mexico

Apr 11, 2017

  • China Southern Airlines Co Ltd (600029.SS) has flown its inaugural Guangzhou to Mexico City flight, via Vancouver, the first route operated by a domestic Chinese carrier to the Latin American nation, the Mexican government said on Tuesday. China’s interest in Mexico, including tourism and investment, has been on the rise in recent years. In 2016, 74,300 Chinese tourists visited Mexico, up 33.5 percent from a year earlier.

SOUTHCOM Tidd: Russia, Iran and China Expanding Influence in Central, South America

April 10, 2017

  • Russia, China and Iran are increasing interest in Central and South America, especially Moscow’s renewed focus on Nicaragua, the head of U.S. Southern Command told the Senate. While it has been primarily directed in economic development, Adm. Kurt Tidd said in a recent Senate Armed Services Committee hearing he sees it also as a way to gain for those three nations to gain influence.

China, Cuba pledge further development of military-to-military relations


  • Chinese Defense Minister and State Councilor Chang Wanquan on Wednesday held talks with visiting Cuban Minister of the Revolutionary Armed Forces Leopoldo Cintra Frias. Chang said China is willing to work with Cuba to implement important consensus reached by leaders of the two countries and make positive contributions to the development of military-to-military relations.

Chinese investors move in, take large slice of Latin American pie

March 25, 2017

  • Chinese companies are forming the mainstay of foreign direct investment in Latin American and African markets as globalization suffers setbacks elsewhere, an international law firm has said. In an interview with China Daily, Juan Picón, global co-chairman of DLA Piper, said he still thought the trend would continue, based on feedback from his clients.

After Trump’s win, China and Mexico move to deepen ties

Dec 12, 2016

  • China and Mexico pledged on Monday to deepen ties at a meeting between their top diplomats following last month’s U.S. presidential election victory of Donald Trump, who has tested Washington’s relationship with both countries.

Battle Lasers! US, Russia, China Develop Brighter Beams for Blasting Enemies


  • Also developing laser weaponry is China, which presented its Silent Hunter laser system at the International Defense Exhibition and Conference in the United Arab Emirates in February 2017. The system is capable of disabling car engines at a distance of one mile and has a capacity of 50-70 kilowatts. China’s other laser system, the Low Altitude Guard II land mobile complex, was presented at a defense exhibition in South Africa in 2016. Based on a conventional military truck chassis, the 30-kW system is capable of destroying unmanned aerial vehicles and helicopters.

Inside China’s High-Tech Space-Based Laser Arsenal


  • In an effort to counteract a network of US navigation, intelligence, and communication satellites capable of unmatched precision strikes, China is developing its own arsenal of electromagnetic railguns, powerful microwave weapons, and high-powered lasers. This weaponry could feature in future space-based ‘light war’ satellite attacks. Researchers, Zeng Yu-quang, Wang Zhi-hong, and Gao Ming-hui first wrote about the notion of a space-based laser weapon in 2013 in the Chinese Optics journal. All three scientists work for leading laser-weapons technology organization the Institute for Optics, Fine Mechanics and Physics.

Made in China Laser Cannon Built to Destroy UAV Swarms a Big Hit at IDEX 2017

Feb 24, 2017

  • A new Chinese laser weapon designed to shoot down aerial drone swarms made by Poly Technologies, a firm founded and owned by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), is drawing inordinate attention at the ongoing IDEX 2017 arms show in Dubai. The laser weapon is called “Silent Hunter,” a fiber-optic laser air defense system also known as the “Low Altitude Laser Defending System” (LASS). The laser weapon on display at IDEX 2017 was designed to be mounted on a special truck, and is the first mobile version of Silent Hunter seen at IDEX. Silent Hunter is designed mainly to shoot down large numbers of low-altitude unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Poly Technologies said the laser is powerful enough to pierce five layers of 2 mm-thick steel plates at a distance of 800 meters, or 5 mm-thick steel plate from 1,000 meters distant.

Ultrafast laser pulses meet magnetic materials in new research

February 20, 2017

  • Recently, research has focused on the BiFeO3 (BFO) and Sr-doped LaMnO3 heterostructure for a series of novel physical properties that originate from the antiferromagnetic (AFM) and ferromagnetic (FM) exchange interaction across the heterointerface. In an article recently published in SCIENCE CHINA Physics, Mechanics & Astronomy, researchers at the Institute of Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, reported their investigation on the ultrafast laser-excited magnetization dynamics of ferromagnetic (FM) La0.67Sr0.33MnO3 (LSMO) thin films with epitaxial grown BiFeO3 (BFO) coating layers.

Nearly-octave wavelength tuning of a continuous wave fiber laser

15 February 2017

  • The wavelength tunability of conventional fiber lasers are limited by the bandwidth of gain spectrum and the tunability of feedback mechanism. Here a fiber laser which is continuously tunable from 1 to 1.9 μm is reported. It is a random distributed feedback Raman fiber laser, pumped by a tunable Yb doped fiber laser. The ultra-wide wavelength tunability is enabled by the unique property of random distributed feedback Raman fiber laser that both stimulated Raman scattering gain and Rayleigh scattering feedback are available at any wavelength. The dispersion property of the gain fiber is used to control the spectral purity of the laser output.

China develops world’s brightest VUV free electron laser research facility

January 13, 2017

  • A team of Chinese scientists announced on January 13 that they have developed a new bright vacuum ultraviolet FEL light source called the Dalian Coherent Light Source (DCLS), which can deliver the world’s brightest FEL light in an energy range from eight to 24 eV. High-gain, free electron lasers (FEL) provide the brightest light sources from VUV to the X-ray region, levels that conventional laser technology cannot reach.

The Chinese Military Now Has Laser Weapons

December 19, 2016

  • In addition to the new stealth fighters, killer drones, tanks and carrier-killing missiles that it unveiled this year, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army also introduced portable laser weapons, which are much closer to laser guns found in science fiction, PopSci reported. One of the systems displayed at last year’s domestic Chinese police expo, the PY132A laser can be an effective tool against enemy drones, while the Low Altitude Guard laser turret is said to be good for taking down small UAVs in police and law enforcement operations. For military use, the PLA has more powerful versions, such as the PY132A, WJG-202, and BBQ-905 laser rifles. These laser weapons are expected to be very useful in blinding slow flying UAVs or in destroying thermal imagers of enemy tanks. Knocking out enemy security cameras and rendering sensors useless are also easier now with the use of these bad boys.