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The US Air Force awarded a $39 million contract to Northrop Grumman to develop the laser beam control portion of the Air Force Research Laboratory’s podded electric laser concept for fifth- and sixth-generation fighter jets.
Northrop’s work will focus on assembling the set of opticsthat the laser feeds through, he says. The system resembles a telescope which rides in a gimbal that can pivot in any direction to shoot the laser.
“Part of [Northrop’s] job is to send the beam out to the target and be able to correct it so that if there’s turbulence between you and the target, that you can hit as high a power density as possible on the target to be effective,” he says.
Phase conjugation is a fascinating phenomenon with very unusual characteristics and properties. It operates somewhat like holography, but it is a dynamic hologram, whose "holographic plate" is defined by interfering wave fronts in a nonlinear optical medium, rather than etched as a static pattern on a glass plate.