Weapon of the Future: LASER

Weapon of the Future: LASER 7 April, 2018

During the Siege of Syracuse (215 BC), Archimedes used the weapons of mirror and the sun to arrive at the equation “light=energy=weapon”. The legacy of this concept endures even today. This candidate weapon intended for land, naval and air platforms, is multi-dimensional. On this issue, we offer an overview of activities conducted on laser weapons for land platforms. Forthcoming issues will cover activities related with naval and air platforms.  

What is LASER? It is the acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. Initial tests on LASER were conducted in 1960 on the basis of ruby crystal and chromium ions. Firstly, a ruby rod is pumped with very high energy to achieve a population inversion. The rod is often placed between two mirrors, forming an optical cavity, which oscillate the light produced by the ruby’s fluorescence, causing stimulated emission. Today, industrially produced chemical crystals have replaced ruby. Light bounces back and forth between the mirrors, being amplified each time and eventually escaping through the cavity. 

Since it was a landmark discovery in basic sciences, laser was utilised both in military and civilian spheres. At the time of its inception, it was not intended for a specific task. As its range of use broadened, laser became one of the most influential discoveries in the 20th century. 
The opportunity to transfer high energy from one point to another using low energy via emission, also excited military users. Both the Western and the Eastern blocs rolled up their sleeves and used laser initially for measurement and marking. Immediately afterwards, they looked for means to use this new discovery as a weapon.

Issue 86