Pentagon-sponsored researchers create weather-controlling laser

Pentagon-sponsored researchers have made the reach of an intensive laser beam longer by an order of magnitude. Researchers say their discovery can be used to seed rain and trigger lightnings, but the potential scope of applications is much larger. A short intensive laser pulse produces plasma in its path. This plasma can interact with charged particles in a storm cloud and change weather, starting rain on request and control lightning bolts. 

The adage “Everyone complains about the weather but nobody does anything about it,” may one day be obsolete if researchers at the University of Central Florida’s College of Optics & Photonics and the University of Arizona further develop a new technique to aim a high-energy laser beam into clouds to make it rain or trigger lightning. The solution? Surround the beam with a second beam to act as an energy reservoir, sustaining the central beam to greater distances than previously possible. The secondary “dress” beam refuels and helps prevent the dissipation of the high-intensity primary beam, which on its own would break down quickly. A report on the project, “Externally refueled optical filaments,” was recently published in Nature Photonics.

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