back to article Boffins develop liquid crystal solid-state raygun turret

OK, so you've done it. You've finally built a high-energy laser which can put out a megawatt-range beam, and it doesn't emit toxic corrosive exhaust or melt itself in operation or weigh a prohibitive amount. Now to revolutionise warfare, right? Well, just hold on there my crazy boffin friend: it's no good trying to hold the …


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  1. JimC Silver badge

    80-95% efficiency?

    Still feels like an awful lot of energy/heat to be lost from the optics in a weapons class device to me. Still a *lot* of engineering required. Sounds promising for less extreme applications though

  2. John Sturdy

    Steam comes out of its ears?

    78% −83% efficiency, handling a beam powerful enough to damage a rocket, leaves 17%-22% to be dispersed (presumably as heat) from the turret, which sounds like a lot to me.

  3. Andy 73
    Thumb Up

    Assuming your shark is in cool enough water...

    ... should allow sufficient cooling for this to be practical.

    1. Zippy the Pinhead

      @ andy

      I almost.. almost mind you need a new keyboard after reading your comment!

    2. Mike Richards Silver badge

      Not forgetting

      It all gets much easier if you assume your shark is spherical.

  4. Ru


    Even if you're only absorbing a single percent of a megawatt-level beam, that's still a fair bit of heat to extract from a fairly delicate piece of equipment. This is a useful bit of kit, certainly, but it would make a lousy laser turret.

    Mirrors and stuff work just fine. Its the laser itself that's the bit that needs the most improvement.

    1. Ammaross Danan

      Even modern weapons....

      Modern rapid "throw a metric tonne of lead down-field in three seconds" weapons have barrel heat issues too. The solution? Don't shoot as much, or swap barrels in-field (using oven mitts apparently). The new cobalt-based barrel should remedy this, and we'll see if they can find such a solution for lasers too. Until then, keep the shots to less than 1 per 3 seconds (or so :P)

  5. DPWDC

    GOLD LEADER: Switch power to front deflector screens

    I'm guessing the enemy just need to stick these on their jets / weapons and they can blast 64% - 90.25% of the energy directly back to the source?

    Over simplified of cource but you get the idea.

  6. Steve the Cynic Silver badge

    Katyusha as target? Bad example.

    Katyusha rockets are short-to-medium range rocket artillery, not long-range ballistic missiles. As such, they are individually inaccurate, but make up for this by the launcher's ability to throw large numbers of them in the air at once. Add to this the fact that the launcher isn't really very expensive either, so you can have a large battery of launchers all firing at once, which is pretty much guaranteed to overwhelm the laser - a full battalion of the modern BM-21 launchers is 18 trucks carrying 40 launch tubes each, which means you have to shoot down 720 Mach 2 rockets in the time it takes them to travel no more than 40km (20km for standard HE)...

  7. Thomas 4

    And in next week's MacGuyver

    He builds a working death ray from his crappy LCD watch.

  8. Code Monkey
    Thumb Up

    Polarisation gratings

    Good progress boffins. Now how do we stick a polarisation gratings to a shark?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Hold on

      That'll get him indicted as a terrorist now-a-days. The crappy watch, not the laser. Make of that what you will.

    2. corrodedmonkee

      The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

      It best not be a Casio F-91W or Macgyver might find himself in Guantanamo.

    3. Danny 14 Silver badge


      a good job of shining up those rockets.

    4. Mike Richards Silver badge



    5. John Sturdy

      Genetically-engineered sharks?

      There might be a clever way of using the pattern of denticles on the shark's skin as a diffraction grating... might have to do a bit of genetic engineering to get the spacing right, though.

  9. AdamT

    Traveller RPG?

    Is it sad that my first thought was of an old sci-fi RPG from my teens called Traveller (I think) with possibly an expansion pack (called High Command maybe?) which allowed for starship combat and featured an optional thingy that could be stuck on the front of your Dreadnoughts allowing for multiple targetting with your primary laser cannon? Or something like that.

    Yeah, actually, that is quite sad isn't it.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      re: Traveller RPG

      Traveller was ace and not at all sad. Geeky maybe, but hey we're all reading El Reg......

      Prison Planet was my fave adventure. We spent many hours being highly vindictive to one poor chap. Happy days (I think even the guy we picked on enjoyed it in a weird sort of way).

    2. Yag

      Even sadder

      My first thought was of Portal 2...

      Mine is the one with a bio-powered insane AI in the pocket

  10. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Up

    It is a *prototype*

    So TBF the efficiency *is* a bit of a red herring.

    This device operates like the 1 bit of an n bit phase shifter in a phased array radar. Note this gets you (in the prototype) to 1.7 deg of your target angle.IE roughly 1/3^3 of the whole angular range. They say then you need a *precision* pointing mechanism to get the find detail.

    Not exactly the nano radian precision JPL need for interplanetary laser comms.

    And they don't even say if it's waterproof.

    Thumbs up as it *is* a V 0.1.

  11. FozzyBear Silver badge

    Title Required

    This still needs to be supersized so that it can be added to my "Death star" Then I can complete my plans to extort ONE BILLION DOLLARS, BWAHAHAHA

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      May one inquire ..

      how much your death star cost or did you nick it ?

  12. Ignazio

    These fancy mirrors you mention, sir...

    They can direct light as they please, I suppose in some specific frequency - hence they are also almost perfect shields for the target of that laser?

  13. Spartacus

    78% −83% of a 100kW laser is erm...

    ~20kW Absorption...

    Are they sure that is better then a mirror?

  14. Alan Firminger


    A diffraction grating passes more than 90% of the light straight through. And the diffracted beams emerge out on either side. So how does this idea get, say, 80% of the source on to the target ?

  15. Fred Flintstone Gold badge
    Thumb Up

    Whenever it's going to work.. will also be a damn good long distance LightPro.

    Let me know when they're going to test this - if this gets hacked in time you'll see the biggest pr0n flick ever projected in the sky. And I'll be laughing my head off :-).

    Applaus for science!

  16. fLaMePrOoF

    If it's goon enugh for super villians...

    What's wrong with the traditional geo-stationary satelite in orbit above the ray gun? No need to re-invent the super-villian master plan to hold the world to ransom!

    1. Jolyon


      a super-villain *ever* have enough goons?

  17. Eddie Edwards

    A mirror is, as many suspected, more efficient

    Wikipedia: "Alubond Solar Reflector panels are aluminium composites achieving over 93% reflectivity"

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