Multiple beam directors for naval free electron laser weapons
Mitchell, Ethan D.
Colson, William B.
Blau, Joseph A.
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The Free Electron Laser has the potential to become a revolutionary weapon system. Deep magazines, low cost-per-shot, pinpoint accuracy, and speed of light delivery give this developing weapon system significant advantages over conventional systems. One limiting factor in high energy laser implementation is thermal blooming, a lensing effect which is caused by the quick heating of the atmosphere, so that the laser beam does not focus on the desired spot, thereby degrading the effectiveness of the laser on target. The use of multiple beam directors focusing on a target from a single platform may mitigate thermal blooming by allowing half of the laser's energy to travel through a given volume of air, so that they only overlap very near the target. Less energy traveling through a given volume of space means less heating, and therefore lessens the effects of thermal blooming. Also, simulations of FEL's were conducted modifying parameters such as the number of undulator periods, electron beam focus, the normalized Rayleigh length, and mirror output coupling, in order to determine optimum design parameters. New parameters for the next proposed FEL were simulated to examine the effect of mirror tilt on laser power and extraction as well.
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