Optimizing SWaP of Laser Diodes for Defense Applications

The use of lasers for directed energy military applications allow for target engagements at “light speed” that can damage or destroy a target almost instantly upon target acquisition. Increasing the power while reducing the size and weight, collectively known as SWaP, is essential for these lasers to be used on a wide variety of Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine or Coast Guard platforms.  The key to SWaP optimization is a highly efficient, low weight, and small-scale laser diode pump. Size and performance are important, as kilowatt and megawatt-class directed energy lasers require thousands of laser diode pumps, otherwise known as the “laser in the “laser.”

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Laser Design Considerations for Directed Energy Weapons

While the use of lasers for directed energy (DE) increases, diversity in requirements and technology continues to evolve. Current directed energy applications, such as those used to eliminate airborne drones, range from comparatively lower-powered, man-portable lasers of 10 kW of optical output power to extremely high-powered lasers with 1,000 kW power levels. These 1 MW lasers are designed to be mounted on high-altitude platforms to destroy boost phase intercontinental ballistic missiles, among other missions.

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Directed Energy Trade Show Trail: Find us at DE Summit, SPIE DCS, & DE2DC

As the use of lasers in a variety of markets continues to increase, we find ourselves on the road, meeting more and more innovative teams exploring the emerging laser markets for applications such as directed energy, automotive lidar, and direct diode heating

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Lasertel & U.S. Congress Explore Factors Enabling the Deployment of Directed Energy Lasers

Lasertel has been on the forefront of directed energy laser technology for quite some time. The team's involvement extends past manufacturing the technology, as Lasertel has also dedicated time promoting and discussing the advancements in the space with U.S. Congress. As a part of this, John Goings, Lasertel’s lead for directed energy lasers, visited Capitol Hill last month. During his visit, Goings met with 10 Committee Staff Members, including members of the DE Caucus, Senate Armed Services Committee, House Armed Services Committee, and the Military Legislative Advisers (MLA) in the following offices:

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Military Grade: Lasertel Product Reliability in Extreme Environments

In military applications, the reliability of a laser diode can be a literal matter of life-or-death. Functionality is critical regardless of setting. Laser diode modules that create first light within high-energy lasers, such as those used within advanced targeting systems and directed energy weapons, face particularly brutal requirements. The environment within such lasers is often more extreme than the exterior environment. For military-grade laser diodes, there are four primary environmental considerations:

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Advancements in Airborne Directed Energy Lasers

Directed energy lasers represent the next-generation capability in the defense of threats to our country and our allies. Solid-state and hybrid lasers are well suited for airborne and space-based directed energy systems. The core components inside these systems are the pump sources based on laser diodes. Performance from the Megawatts of power needed from the laser diode is the key technology to allowing directed energy laser systems to be deployed on the battlefield. 

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Airborne Platforms Highlighted at XPONENTIAL 2018

XPONENTIAL 2018, AUVSI’s annual conference held in Denver, Colorado, earlier this month, provided a valuable cross-section perspective of the latest in unmanned vehicles and their emerging applications. Last year there was a general interest in autonomous vehicles, with automotive technology well-represented on the trade floor, as well as tremendous interest in technical papers, including our own, Increasing Field of View and Reducing Costs in Lidar. This year was almost exclusively airborne platforms, although there was still an interesting array of ground and aquatic vehicles, including a ‘transformer,’ with air and land operation.

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Four Reasons Dollars per Watt Is the Wrong Metric When Choosing Diode Pumps for High-Power Lasers

For all laser applications, including commercial and defense, a primary objective is to maximize performance while minimizing cost. Within the telecommunications industry, a common metric when selecting a laser diode is the cost of the laser divided by the power of the emitted light—dollars per watt. Although dollars per watt is an effective metric for commercial applications, it is an oversimplification when designing the optical pumping system for a high-power laser, especially for military lasers, for several reasons. 

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Meet the Team: John Goings, Account Manager for Defense Market

John Goings has worked with Lasertel for the last seven years in a number of different industries, most recently focusing on defense. John’s knowledge of both the defense industry and of direct diode sources helps him find best-fit solutions for customers’ applications.

We asked him how he sees the defense industry advancing and what customers should consider before purchasing laser diodes.

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Directed Energy Technology Outlook 2018

This fall, Lasertel sponsored the 2017 Directed Energy Day in Alexandria, VA. This high-level private summit brought top military leaders to discuss the emerging technology needs in directed energy.

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