26/09/2021

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Laser technology to protect critica… – Information Centre – Research & Innovation

Lightning strikes can cause substantial harm to buildings and important infrastructure, such as airports. To mitigate this danger, just one EU venture is trying to use impressive laser technological innovation to control exactly where lightning strikes. If profitable, the ensuing laser lightning rod could assistance help save funds – and life.


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It is explained that lightning under no circumstances strikes the exact area 2 times. But just just one strike can be sufficient to cause substantial harm. Not only do lightning strikes get rid of up to 24 000 men and women each and every year, they’re also accountable for electricity outages, forest fires, and structural harm.

When lightning strikes important infrastructure and sensitive websites like airports and rocket launch pads, the end result can be billions of euros in harm. To mitigate this danger, the EU-funded LLR venture has established out to do what was at the time thought of impossible: control lightning. 

“Today’s lightning security methods are nevertheless primarily based on the lightning rod designed by Benjamin Franklin nearly 300 years in the past,” claims Aurélien Houard, a researcher at Ecole Polytechnique in France and LLR (Laser Lighnting Rod) venture coordinator. “Our venture intends to update this concept making use of a quite impressive laser.”

A impressive laser beam

At the heart of the venture is a novel style of laser featuring a impressive beam. This beam will act as a preferential route for the lightning, diverting it away from opportunity victims. The one of a kind laser will also guidebook lightning flashes to the ground to discharge the electric charge in the clouds.

To illustrate, when put in at an airport, the laser lightning rod would run in conjunction with an early warning radar method. “Upon the enhancement of thunderstorm disorders, the laser would be fired toward the cloud to deflect the lightning strike away from plane all through take-off, landing, taxiing, and ground operations,” clarifies Houard. “In outcome, this would develop a risk-free corridor surrounded – and safeguarded – by lasers.”

Ground-breaking technological innovation

To achieve the required depth and repetition price, the venture has utilized a amount of ground-breaking technologies. For illustration, it uses chirped pulse amplification (CPA), the present-state-of-the-artwork procedure used by most of the world’s substantial-electricity lasers and the winner of the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics. “CPA is a procedure for amplifying an ultrashort laser pulse,” claims Houard. “It will work by stretching out the laser pulse temporally, amplifying it, and then re-compressing it.”

To deliver the limited laser pulses at a substantial repetition price of 1 000 photographs for each next, the venture group had to scale up the laser’s normal electricity. To do this, superior amplification technological innovation designed by Trumpf, a German industrial device production company and member of the venture consortium, was used.

In accordance to Houard, the electrical power equipped by the technology’s lots of diodes is concentrated in a quite skinny disk of crystal cooled by h2o. “When the laser pulse goes although the crystal, the stored electrical power is transferred to the laser pulse by way of a quantum system referred to as ‘laser gain’,” he claims. “The design of this skinny disk amplifier permitted for an improve in the electricity of the ultrashort laser by an get of magnitude.”

The venture also designed an progressive method for predicting lightning exercise. “Using a blend of standard info from climate stations and synthetic intelligence, the companions designed a new way of predicting lightning strikes within just a forecast interval of ten to thirty minutes and within just a radius of thirty kilometres,” responses Houard. “This is the to start with time that a method primarily based on straightforward meteorological info has been in a position to predict lightning strikes by way of true-time calculations.”

Demonstration prepared for 2021

The LLR group is at the moment testing the laser in Paris, with the purpose of validating the concept of properly guiding a lightning strike to the ground by projecting a very long-vary beam into the environment.

A ultimate demonstration of the LLR concept is established to take area on Mt. Säntis in Switzerland, which is residence to a Swisscom tower that is struck by lightning over 100 situations each and every year. The demonstration is prepared for 2021. Subsequent a profitable demonstration, the venture group is self-assured that the method will be completely ready for total commercialisation within just a several years.