Solid State Lasers Within Sight


After 40 years of work, the Pentagon may have a solid-state laser in its arsenal within a decade, reports the Oakland Tribune.

Compared to the chemical lasers now in use by America’s military, solid-state lasers would be compact and efficient – perhaps running off the engine of an Army Humvee or an Air Force F-16.
Solid-state lasers would also be deadly. In a recent demonstration at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory ? one of three sites of research on a solid-state laser – a test-fired laser emitted 400 pulses of light in two seconds, drilling through an inch of steel, the Tribune reported.

Once fully developed, the Tribune reports, solid-state lasers could shoot down mortars and artillery shells, explode ordnance in enemy depots and even wipe out ballistic missiles 500 miles away. They would strike with incredible speed and could be retargeted instantly.

Contrary to science fiction, the lasers will not be visible streams of light. Instead, targets will simply explode. Troops will not point and shoot lasers, because they will most likely have to react to dangers and targets moving too fast for a human response. Nor will lasers be holster- sized – the smallest to date is the size of a commercial jetliner.

FILED UNDER: Military Affairs, Science & Technology, , ,
Kate McMillan
About Kate McMillan
Kate McMillan is the proprietor of small dead animals, which has won numerous awards including Best Conservative Blog and Best Canadian Blog. She contributed nearly 300 pieces to OTB between November 2004 and June 2007. Follow her on Twitter @katewerk.


  1. Ol' BC says:

    The size of a commercial jetliner? Computers used to occupy full rooms. It won’t be long.

  2. Alan Kellogg says:

    Solid state lasers? We’ve had solid state … oh, they mean large solid state lasers.

    In case you hadn’t heard folks, that laser that reads your cds/dvds? Solid state. It’s also teeny. So they’ve been around for awhile. Now it appears we’re going to see big solid state lasers. Looks like they’ve worked out a few problems with scaling hem up.

    Science and technology journalism, behind the curve from the start.

  3. lt bell says:

    wonder if little dicky cheny owns a part of this as well

  4. Kent says:

    Of course. Lawrence Livermore is a national laboratory, so we all own a part of it.

  5. Track back is broken. I wanted to let you know I used thee post on my blog.