Popular science fiction fantasy literature and film fans have long read about and watched their heroes using lasers to disable or destroy large enemy targets. Yet, these lasers have taken years longer to develop than predicted, partially because the materials from which the lasers are constructed have been problematic. Manufacturing technology under development by the Air Force and a small business partner will enable new lasing materials made from nanopowders and in turn will make these futuristic lasers possible.nGimat, Co., a contractor to the Air Force Research Laboratory, has developed materials processes for Yttrium Aluminum Garnet (YAG) powder, the ingredient from which new laser amplifiers are made. This technology will lead to lasers providing near instantaneous target engagement, an extremely low-cost per shot — about a dollar per shot versus up to millions of dollars for a missile — and an extremely deep magazine since the laser’s batteries can be recharged during flight.
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