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Nuclear & Plasma Sciences Society

Distinguished Lectures

Dr. John W. Luginsland

Principle Physical Scientist, Physics and Electronics Directorate Air Force Office of Scientific Research


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.


photo of Dr. John W. Luginsland

John W. Luginsland is a professor at Michigan State University in the Departments of Computational Mathematics, Science, and Engineering and Electrical and Computer Engineering. Previously, he served various roles at the Air Force Office of Scientific Research including Division Chief, Division Technical Advisor, Program Manager for Plasma Physics, and Program Manager for Laser Science. Additionally, Dr. Luginsland was a staff member at NumerEx LLC, Science Applications International Corporation, and the Air Force Research Laboratory. He is a past chair of the IEEE’s Plasma Science and Applications Committee, and a previous Guest Editor of IEEE Transactions on Plasma Science Special Issue on High Power Microwave Sources. Dr. Luginsland holds degrees from The University of Michigan in Nuclear Engineering. He is a fellow of the IEEE and the Air Force Research Laboratory. His research interests are in coherent radiation sources, dense kinetic plasmas, serious games, and computational modeling including high-performance computing.

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