General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems (GA-EMS) and Boeing are working together to scale 100 kW-class lasers to 250 kW-class High Energy Laser (HEL) weapon system to they can shoot down missiles and not just drones.
The HEL weapon system will combine GA-EMS’ scalable distributed gain laser technology, HELLi-ion battery systems and integrated thermal management with Boeing’s beam director and precision acquisition, tracking and pointing (ATP) software.
Current fiber laser technology could be scaled to 300 kilowatts. The new system will use solid-state laser technology and liquid cooling. Cooling large lasers are a huge part of the problem for scaling to higher power levels. The liquid cooling and the solid-state components will have the same reaction to light.
The cooling liquid flows through channels in the solid-state laser material. The cooling liquid has an exact match for its refractive index. This prevents the lasers from generating heat or sending part of the laser energy where it should not go.
In 2015, the General Atomics 150 kilowatt laser had an energy density of 4 kilograms per kilowatt. This meant the 150 kW laser system weighed 600 kilograms. Having a lighter system means you can pack more power.
It seems like the modular liquid cooled solid state laser systems could scale into the megawatt power range.
SOURCES – General Atomics
Written By Brian Wang, Nextbigfuture.com