We’ve just seen the announcement of a new so-called non-lethal “noise weapon” that sends a sound with the decibel level of a fighter jet to a specific target using a laser beam as its delivery device. Next, Japan test-fires a so-called “Death Star” laser capable of producing energy equal to 1,000 times Earth’s total power consumption – in other words, enough power to destroy a Star Wars Death Star. Meanwhile, researchers in the U.S. have created the first white laser that can provide more efficient lighting and someday replace Wi-Fi with high speed Internet connections via a light bulb. Death and destruction or illumination and communications – are lasers the light of good or evil?
According to the journal Plasma Physics and Controlled Fusion, researchers at Osaka University have created and tested a 300-foot-long Laser For Fast Experiments (LFEX) that beamed a 2-petawatt (two quadrillion watt) pulse for one picosecond (a trillionth of a second). Is that enough to demolish a Death Star?
In a previous experiment, a 50 kilowatt laser was used to a drone at a distance of a mile. The LFEX was 10 billion times more powerful than that. You do the math. Did that pulse dim the lights in Japan? Not at all, since the LFEX used the same amount of energy needed to power a microwave for two seconds.
Moving over to the side of good, Nature Nanotechnology reports that researchers from Arizona State University have created the first semiconductor lasers can emit the full color range of the visible spectrum that are required to make white laser light. These lasers are brighter and more energy efficient than LEDs and the light is safe for human eyes.
What’s even more exciting is the possibility for Li-Fi – visible light communication where data is encoded at ultra-high frequencies in the light. A Li-Fi laser light bulb would contain a microchip that produces a signal that computers receiving the light could connect to. This has already been done with white LEDs but white laser would push the Li-Fi speeds 10 to 100 times faster.
From death to Li-Fi … the laser has not yet reached its potential where we can decide if it’s a tool of good or evil or both. Any guess what it will be?