Applications for reactor-pumped lasers
Applications for reactor-pumped lasers Nuclear reactor-pumped lasers (RPLs) have been developed in the US by the Department of Energy for over two decades, with the primary research occurring at Sandia National Laboratories and Idaho National Engineering Laboratory. The US program has experimentally demonstrated reactor-pumped lasing in various mixtures of xenon, argon, neon, and helium at wavelengths of 585, 703, 725, 1,271, 1,733, 1,792, 2,032, 2,630, 2,650, and 3,370 nm with intrinsic efficiency as high as 2.5%. The major strengths of a reactor-pumped laser are continuous high-power operation, modular construction, self-contained power, compact size, and a variety of wavelengths (from visible to infrared). These characteristics suggest numerous applications not easily accessible to other laser types. The continuous high power of an RPL opens many potential manufacturing applications such as deep-penetration welding and cutting of thick structures, wide-area hardening of metal surfaces by heat treatment or cladding application, wide-area vapor deposition of ceramics onto metal surfaces, production of sub-micron sized particles for manufacturing of ceramics, and 3-D ceramic lithography. In addition, a ground-based RPL could beam its power to space for such activities as illuminating geosynchronous communication satellites in the earth`s shadow to extend their lives, beaming power to orbital transfer vehicles, removing space debris, and more »
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