Feeds

US Navy boffins invent aircraft-to-sub laser phone

Beam the noise

The next step in data security

US Navy boffins say they have developed a method which could allow aircraft to communicate with submarines using frickin' laser beams.

Dr Ted Jones of the Naval Research Laboratory has developed methods of generating acoustic effects in water by firing laser pulses into it. According to the lab:

Optical properties of water can be manipulated with very intense laser light to act like a focusing lens... In addition, the slightly different colors of the laser can be arranged so that the pulse also compresses in time as it travels through water, further concentrating the light. Controlled underwater compression of optical pulses can be attained.

Apparently the NRL's cunning self-generated water lens and colour time-compression tech allows a laser beam to generate a tailored underwater "explosion of steam" which can emit a sonic pulse at 220 decibels - all without any hardware actually in the water at all. Jones and his fellow maritime boffins think that the laser beam could travel "many hundreds of meters through air" before generating its acoustic effects in the water.

This would allow a aircraft high above the sea to fire a laser downwards, generating sound pulses which could be received by underwater telephone gear aboard a submerged submarine. At present, communication with subs at depth generally requires the use of a floating buoy*.

Another possible application would be the generation of sonar pulses without the need to put active equipment into the water. Receivers would still need to be put into the sea to pick up the echoes - either lowered from a hovering helicopter or in dropped buoys - but such kit would be less complex and expensive than present-day gear which contains an emitter as well. It would also be harder for hostile sub commanders to locate their enemies.

According to the NRL, the new laser acoustics could also enhance the effectiveness of underwater active sonar. ®

*There is the option of very low-frequency radio sent from a large shore station, but this requires the sub to come fairly shallow and stream an antenna.

New hybrid storage solutions

More from The Register

next story
PORTAL TO ELSEWHERE scried in small galaxy far, far away
Supermassive black hole dominates titchy star formation
Bacon-related medical breakthrough wins Ig Nobel prize
Is there ANYTHING cured pork can't do?
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Edge Research Lab to tackle chilly LOHAN's final test flight
Our US allies to probe potential Vulture 2 servo freeze
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
Cracked it - Vulture 2 power podule fires servos for 4 HOURS
Pixhawk avionics juice issue sorted, onwards to Spaceport America
Archaeologists and robots on hunt for more Antikythera pieces
How much of the world's oldest computer can they find?
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.