Diamonds Could Help Lasers Recharge Drones

Diamonds Could Help Lasers Recharge Drones


The same rare gemstones that facilitate nuptials worldwide could one day help recharge drones in midflight.

The military has long experimented with directed-energy weapons, and the same lasers that scorch enemy drones could recharge the solar panels on friendly UAVs. École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) spin-off LakeDiamond wants to use diamonds to make the whole process more efficient.

LakeDiamond is quick to point out that their lasers won’t damage human eyes or skin, since the process is actually intended for civilian drones. Power beaming, itself, isn’t an especially novel concept, but the advent of unmanned aerial vehicles makes a laser recharge system (or laser weapon) a lot more viable.

As EPFL points out, standard laser beams expand slightly as they travel, leading to a loss in density. By using a small square lab-grown diamond as the optical component, LakeDiamond produces a beam with a larger diameter, and its rays stay parallel for up to several hundred meters. The laser sports a wavelength of 1.5 µm, and the beam is a mere few dozen watts strong.

The results are historical.

“LakeDiamond's system holds the world record for continuous operation using a wavelength in the middle of the infrared range – it delivers more than 30 watts in its base configuration,” claims EPFL.

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