Feeds

US Navy boffins invent aircraft-to-sub laser phone

Beam the noise

Build a business case: developing custom apps

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.

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

More from The Register

next story
Just TWO climate committee MPs contradict IPCC: The two with SCIENCE degrees
'Greenhouse effect is real, but as for the rest of it ...'
Asteroid's DINO KILLING SPREE just bad luck – boffins
Sauricide WASN'T inevitable, reckon scientists
Flamewars in SPAAACE: cooler fires hint at energy efficiency
Experiment aboard ISS shows we should all chill out for cleaner engines
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
NASA Mars rover FINALLY equals 1973 Soviet benchmark
Yet to surpass ancient Greek one, however
Famous 'Dish' radio telescope to be emptied in budget crisis: CSIRO
Radio astronomy suffering to protect Square Kilometre Array
BEST BATTERY EVER: All lithium, all the time, plus a dash of carbon nano-stuff
We have found the Holy Grail (of batteries) - boffins
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.