Alderaan, Leia's homeworld in the movie Star Wars, was blown up by the Death Star- a massive moon-sized mobile battle station. For those who have seen the movie (gosh dear readers please watch it), it's known that such planet destroyer utilized combined lasers to obliterate almost anything.
But what if I tell you that it's not entirely fictional anymore? That today, it's actually quite possible? Scientists from the Macquarie University in Australia had successfully combined several lasers into one beam like the massive weapon!
Using an extremely pure diamond crystal instead of kyber crystals (again, watch. it. please.), the precious stone allowed the power to be directed in a specific direction without any beam distortions. "This discovery is technologically important as laser researchers are struggling with increasing power beyond a certain level due to the large challenges in handling the large heat build-up, and combining beams from multiple lasers is one of the most promising ways to substantially raise the power barrier," said study
's the lead author, Dr. Aaron Mckay,
The mechanism behind this is called the Raman scattering or the Raman effect- "the inelastic scattering of a photon by molecules which are excited to higher vibrational or rotational energy levels," as described in Wikipedia. Although this is shown in many materials, it is particularly strong in diamonds (looks like the "women's bestfriend" can be more useful then). These can change the color of the beam and dissipate heat efficiently which are very useful specifically due to safety reasons. This innovation also allows lasers to go more than the current power limits.
“The particular wavelength of the directed energy beam is critical to the efficient transmission through the atmosphere and to reduce the eye hazard for people, or indeed animals, who may be in the vicinity of the beam,” said Professor Rich Mildren, co-author of the study.
While destroying planets would be an incredible feat, this technology is rather used for scientific analysis and defense purposes (i.e. missile defense systems). “Researchers are developing high power lasers to combat threats to security from the increased proliferation of low-cost drones and missile technology. High power lasers are also needed in space applications including powering space vehicles and tackling the growing space junk problem that threatens satellites,” Professor Mildren added.
Well, at least we know now that it's not created to destroy planets or to do anything we should be worried about in that case. (Or is it?)