A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away
someone boldly went somewhere or something, blah blah blah. But, the coolest part was this moon-thing
made all these lasers that came together to make a superlaser! Remember that?? Turns out real life scientists have come up
with a way to join smaller laser beams into a super powerful laser thanks to the light
bending abilities of diamonds. But before we get into that, let’s start
with the basics of lasers real quick. Lasers are simply coordinated waves of light. If you could see the waves they’d all be
aligned, going the same direction. The technology was developed in the 1950s
with no real practical use at the time. Today, science uses lasers to precisely measure
distances, communicate, etch and cut, cool gases to near absolute zero, image tiny things
(like bacteria), and hundreds of other world-changing applications. And the more powerful they get, the more possibilities
open up, so it behooves scientists to keep upping the power. Essentially, to create a laser, power is added
into substances until they “lase” or emit aligned laser-light either in a continuous
beam, or as pulses. The average laser pointer that my cat chases
needs a few milliwatts of power to do this, and the U.S. military is testing lasers as
powerful as 60 kilowatts! The idea is to take out incoming rockets or
mortars or swarms of drones., they’re not quite at Alderaan destroying levels yet. But powerful lasers can be more than just
death-beams, they can be used to image things as small as viruses and bits of DNA, and lasers
with even more power could help us ignite fusion! The problem is, you can’t just build a single
powerful laser willy-nilly. As lasers get more powerful, the heat of the
laser mechanism can affect the creation and focus of the beam. So instead, it might be simpler to just take
a bunch of smaller beams and point them at the same spot. Scientists have been using that approach for
years. Mostly they use mirrors or lenses to focus
lots of lasers at a single point, but getting several powerful lasers to focus at the same
place exactly on top of, say, a virus waiting for a selfie… not easy. It would be better if we could build something
like the Death Star, right? Lots of beams combining into ONE BEAM. Aiming ONE BEAM? That’s easy! And now humanity’s Galen Erso has appeared
in the form of researchers at Macquarie University. In March 2017, rather than using lenses and
mirrors, they grabbed a bit of ultra-pure diamond and let the crystalline structure
of the atoms do the rest! They lined up four lasers, one that would
shoot straight through the crystal and out the other side, that they called the “seed
beam,” and three that would enter the crystal at an angle, called “pump beams.” When they were all fired at once, the crystal
transferred most of the power of the pump beams to the seed beam, upping its power by
almost 4.6 kW! Yeah, that’s a lot less powerful than that
60 kW missile stopper from earlier, but this was just a proof of concept. The researchers are optimistic that using
diamonds to combine lasers can raise the power barrier because the ultra-pure diamond doesn’t
heat up the way traditional technology does. According to the researchers, this technology
could be used to make lasers that could propel spacecraft, clean up space junk, or shoot
down missiles and drones! It’s so simple it’s actually mind-boggling
we didn’t figure it out sooner. Just don’t ask them to go to a secret installation
and build a planet-sized one. It just it doesn’t end well, okay? So combining a bunch of lasers through a diamond
sounds pretty cool. But so does making lasers from jellyfish. I’m not crazy. Trace talks all about that right here. Alright guys do you think this is the best
way to get super powerful lasers? Or is there another think we haven’t talked
about that you think is just awesome? Let us know in the comments and subscribe
for more. I’ll see you next time on Seeker.