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beef-o-lipso t1_j1yzjz6 wrote

So this appears to be a laser amplifier of some sort? If not, what?

So then, what uses are there?


Ok-Feeling1462 t1_j1z04dx wrote

Well warfare springs to mind, instead of a laser that delivers a smaller amount of energy over a longer duration you have a laser that dumps all its energy in a fraction of the time.

Could take down targets before they're aware they've been shot at?


beef-o-lipso t1_j1z0amb wrote

So it is an amplifier? The article does really say.


Psychotic_Pedagogue t1_j21ocyn wrote

The oversimplified version would be that they're exploiting time dilation to store light from a laser and release it across a shorter interval, like charging and discharging a battery or capacitor.

Made up numbers for illustration - the laser pulses they're actually talking about take place in quadrillionths of a second.

Take a laser and fire it at a mirror for 2 seconds. Normally, the reflection from that surface would last as long as the laser is firing - for the whole 2 seconds. The reflection will always be weaker than the laser because basic physics, can't have more than 100% efficiency.

The mirror in the article though is a wall of plasma that moves so quickly that it's subject to noticeable time dilation. Now, instead of the reflection lasting the 2 seconds of our laser pulse, it's being 'compressed' by time dilation into 1 second.

As long as the compression factor is greater than the fraction of the energy lost to the mirror and refocussing the reflection, this is effectively an increase in peak output power but at the cost of reduced overall output power (as your output power for part of the pulse is nil, and you have additional losses).


otter111a t1_j1z4ta0 wrote

You ever been to a Pink Floyd laser light show? Imagine that but instead of physical mirrors they use relativistic ion plasma mirrors. Way way cooler