Directed Energy – Advanced Technology for Defense at the Speed of Light
From Archimedes’ focused mirrors for burning Roman ships to Captain Kirk’s phaser stunning Klingons, the desire to generate, focus, and use photons for national security applications has been a desire of scientists and science fiction writers alike for centuries. With the advent of globalization and the rise of non-traditional military actors the military environment has become very complex. In this world, the ability to rapidly and precisely apply energy to perform useful work offers new vistas in both military and homeland security scenarios. Highlighting recent advances to turn the directed energy dream into reality, this presentation introduces the physics of both laser and high-power microwave coherent electromagnetic sources, and discusses a variety of applications from sensing to missile defense to non-lethal weapons, including the potential challenges in using novel disruptive technology in the real world.