Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Researchers find more efficient way to steer laser beams

Date:
May 3, 2011
Source:
North Carolina State University
Summary:
For many practical applications involving lasers, it's important to be able to control the direction of the laser beams. Researchers have come up with a very energy-efficient way of steering laser beams that is precise and relatively inexpensive.

For many practical applications involving lasers, it's important to be able to control the direction of the laser beams. Researchers from North Carolina State University have come up with a very energy-efficient way of steering laser beams that is precise and relatively inexpensive.

"In many cases, it is much easier to redirect a laser beam at a target than to steer the laser itself. We intended to develop a way to do this efficiently and without moving anything," says Dr. Michael Escuti, an associate professor of electrical engineering at NC State and co-author of a paper on the research. "We also wanted to be able to steer the beams over a wide range of angles, which is important for practical applications."

The key to the Escuti team's success was the use of "polarization gratings," which consist of a thin layer of liquid crystal material on a glass plate. The researchers created a device that allows a laser beam to pass through a stack of these polarization gratings. Researchers manipulated the optical properties of each grating, and were able to steer the laser beams by controlling how each individual grating redirects the light. "Because each individual grating is very good at redirecting light in the desired directions with almost no absorption, the stack of gratings do not significantly weaken the laser power," Escuti says.

Another advantage of the system, Escuti explains, is that "every grating that we add to the stack increases the number of steerable angles exponentially. So, not only can we steer lasers efficiently, but we can do it with fewer components in a more compact system.

"Compared to other laser steering technologies, this is extremely cost-effective. We're taking advantage of materials and techniques that are already in widespread use in the liquid crystal display sector."

The technology has a variety of potential applications. For example, free space communication uses lasers to transfer data between platforms - such as between satellites or between an aircraft and soldiers on the battlefield. This sort of communication relies on accurate and efficient laser-beam steering. Other technologies that could make use of the research include laser weapons and LIDAR, or laser radar, which uses light for optical scanning applications - such as mapping terrain.

Escuti's team has already delivered prototypes of the technology to the U.S. Air Force, and is currently engaged in additional research projects to determine the technology's viability for a number of other applications.

The paper was co-authored by Escuti; NC State Ph.D. student Jihwan Kim; former NC State Ph.D. student Chulwoo Oh; and Steve Serati of Boulder Nonlinear Systems, Inc. The paper is published in the journal Applied Optics. The research was funded by the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by North Carolina State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

North Carolina State University. "Researchers find more efficient way to steer laser beams." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 May 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110502110625.htm>.
North Carolina State University. (2011, May 3). Researchers find more efficient way to steer laser beams. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110502110625.htm
North Carolina State University. "Researchers find more efficient way to steer laser beams." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110502110625.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways

Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways

AP (July 30, 2014) British officials said on Wednesday that driverless cars will be tested on roads in as many as three cities in a trial program set to begin in January. Officials said the tests will last up to three years. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Amid Drought, UCLA Sees Only Water

Amid Drought, UCLA Sees Only Water

AP (July 30, 2014) A ruptured 93-year-old water main left the UCLA campus awash in 8 million gallons of water in the middle of California's worst drought in decades. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow

Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow

AP (July 30, 2014) Smartphone powered paper airplane that was popular on crowdfunding website KickStarter makes its debut at Wisconsin airshow (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
U.K. To Allow Driverless Cars On Public Roads

U.K. To Allow Driverless Cars On Public Roads

Newsy (July 30, 2014) Driverless cars could soon become a staple on U.K. city streets, as they're set to be introduced to a few cities in 2015. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile: iPhone Android Web
      Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins