New laser tech may give science the ability to control the weather

A study has been published that outlines a method of creating a laser beam that can travel further than lasers were previously able to travel. Researchers from the University of Arizona have developed a way to increase the distance the laser can travel in air by encasing it in the beam of light of another laser. The process is described as being similar to wrapping a wire in an insulating layer.

Researchers say that a normal consumer laser can travel a long distance. However, when a laser becomes intense enough it can collapse inward on itself. That collapse can become so intense that the electrons in the oxygen and nitrogen of the air are torn apart creating plasma.

The laser beam created by the researchers is called a "dressed" beam since it is wrapped inside another laser beam. With the dressed beam able to travel longer distances without issue, the new laser opens the possibility of allowing scientists to control the weather by seeding rain with lasers.

Currently seeding rain using lasers is limited by the short distance the beams can travel before reaching their dissipation point. In testing the researchers have been able to lengthen the beam of an externally fueled laser filament from ten inches to about seven feet and hope to extend the beam even further. Researchers say in theory the beams could be lengthened to 50-meters or so.

SOURCE: Science Recorder