TECH

Giant Lasers Could Be Used To Divert Lightning Strikes Away From Buildings

02/04/2014 11:27 | Updated 02 April 2014
Scott Stringham photographer via Getty Images

Inexplicably they have not suggested this technology could be put to use in a death ray, light-sabre or some other instrument of carnage.

Instead they reckon it would be useful for diverting lightning away from buildings which clearly has its benefits but is nowhere near as interesting.

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When Volcanoes And Lightning Meet

Normally lasers lose power over distances of more than a few inches due to the dissipating effects of linear refraction which ionises the air creating plasma and

To overcome this the new technique embeds a primary beam within a secondary 'dress' beam.

Maik Scheller, an assistant research professor in the UA College of Optical Sciences, said: "Think of two airplanes flying together, a small fighter jet accompanied by a large tanker.

"Just like the large plane refuels the fighter jet in flight and greatly extends its range, our primary, high-intensity laser pulse is accompanied by a second laser pulse – the "dress" beam – which provides a constant energy supply to compensate for the energy loss of the primary laser beam as it travels farther from its source."

By using the new technique, researchers were able to extend the range of the lasers from around 10 inches to 7 feet.

Is this was scaled up they could in theory reach around 165 feet, enough to create channels of ionised plasma through which lightning could travel.

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