Laser technology to protect critica… – Information Centre – Research & Innovation

Lightning strikes can cause substantial harm to structures and critical infrastructure, such as airports. To mitigate this danger, 1 EU project is making an attempt to use impressive laser know-how to handle where by lightning strikes. If productive, the ensuing laser lightning rod could assist save cash – and lives. […]

Lightning strikes can cause substantial harm to structures and critical infrastructure, such as airports. To mitigate this danger, 1 EU project is making an attempt to use impressive laser know-how to handle where by lightning strikes. If productive, the ensuing laser lightning rod could assist save cash – and lives.


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It is claimed that lightning hardly ever strikes the similar put twice. But just 1 strike can be more than enough to cause substantial harm. Not only do lightning strikes get rid of up to 24 000 persons each and every year, they’re also responsible for electrical power outages, forest fires, and structural harm.

When lightning strikes critical infrastructure and delicate web-sites like airports and rocket launch pads, the final result can be billions of euros in harm. To mitigate this danger, the EU-funded LLR project has established out to do what was after regarded difficult: handle lightning. 

“Today’s lightning security devices are nevertheless centered on the lightning rod made by Benjamin Franklin virtually 300 a long time back,” claims Aurélien Houard, a researcher at Ecole Polytechnique in France and LLR (Laser Lighnting Rod) project coordinator. “Our project intends to update this concept using a very impressive laser.”

A impressive laser beam

At the heart of the project is a novel kind of laser showcasing a impressive beam. This beam will act as a preferential path for the lightning, diverting it absent from likely victims. The special laser will also manual lightning flashes to the ground to discharge the electric powered cost in the clouds.

To illustrate, when set up at an airport, the laser lightning rod would function in conjunction with an early warning radar program. “Upon the enhancement of thunderstorm circumstances, the laser would be fired towards the cloud to deflect the lightning strike absent from aircraft throughout take-off, landing, taxiing, and ground functions,” describes Houard. “In result, this would build a secure corridor surrounded – and guarded – by lasers.”

Floor-breaking know-how

To attain the required intensity and repetition rate, the project has used a range of ground-breaking technologies. For case in point, it employs chirped pulse amplification (CPA), the existing-point out-of-the-art technique utilised by most of the world’s significant-electrical power lasers and the winner of the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics. “CPA is a technique for amplifying an ultrashort laser pulse,” claims Houard. “It will work by stretching out the laser pulse temporally, amplifying it, and then re-compressing it.”

To provide the brief laser pulses at a significant repetition rate of 1 000 photographs per 2nd, the project staff had to scale up the laser’s regular electrical power. To do this, highly developed amplification know-how made by Trumpf, a German industrial device producing organization and member of the project consortium, was utilised.

In accordance to Houard, the strength equipped by the technology’s quite a few diodes is concentrated in a very thin disk of crystal cooled by drinking water. “When the laser pulse goes while the crystal, the saved strength is transferred to the laser pulse by a quantum system termed ‘laser gain’,” he claims. “The layout of this thin disk amplifier permitted for an enhance in the electrical power of the ultrashort laser by an get of magnitude.”

The project also made an ground breaking program for predicting lightning activity. “Using a mixture of common facts from climate stations and synthetic intelligence, the companions made a new way of predicting lightning strikes within a forecast interval of 10 to 30 minutes and within a radius of 30 kilometres,” feedback Houard. “This is the initially time that a program centered on basic meteorological facts has been in a position to forecast lightning strikes by authentic-time calculations.”

Demonstration planned for 2021

The LLR staff is at present screening the laser in Paris, with the goal of validating the concept of properly guiding a lightning strike to the ground by projecting a very long-vary beam into the ambiance.

A remaining demonstration of the LLR concept is established to take put on Mt. Säntis in Switzerland, which is household to a Swisscom tower that is struck by lightning around one hundred periods each and every year. The demonstration is planned for 2021. Following a productive demonstration, the project staff is assured that the program will be ready for total commercialisation within a couple a long time.

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