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my laser-related predictions of the future

ixfd64

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These are my laser-related predictions of the future, based on an analysis of current trends. This list was inspired by the website FutureTimeline, which lists predictions of the future all the way to the end of the universe!

September 2010 - class IV violet lasers are becoming common

Violet lasers first broke the 500 mW barrier in late 2009. Due to the development of more powerful diodes, class IV violet lasers are becoming very common. However, most of them are DIY lasers built by hobbyists; it will be some time before companies start mass-producing them.

2012 - construction of the HiPER facility begins

Construction of the High Power laser Energy Research (HiPER) facility is now underway. Once completed, it will house a multi-petawatt laser system used for inertial confinement fusion (ICF) research.

2012 - true green laser diodes enter mass production

First developed in 2009, green laser diodes are now considered to be stable enough for mass production. These diodes are initially very expensive, costing about $30 per mW, but the law of supply and demand means prices will fall as production increases.

2012 - laser ignition used in select Ford cars

Ford first announced in 2009 that it would start developing laser spark plugs for use in its high-end cars. The company had hoped to make them available by 2011, but economic woes delay production by one year. Not only are laser spark plugs more reliable than traditional ones, they also consume less power.

2014 - DIY green lasers are becoming widespread

Until now, homemade green lasers were uncommon due to the complex construction of DPSS laser systems required to produce green light. Following the introduction of green laser diodes, it is now much easier to build green lasers from scratch. DIY green lasers now make up a significant portion of hobbyist-owned lasers.

2014 - Vulcan laser is upgraded

The Vulcan laser in Oxfordshire undergoes an upgrade that increases its output to 10 petawatts, making it the most powerful laser in the world.

2015 - Boeing YAL-1 enters service

After more than ten years of development, the Boeing YAL-1 Airborne Laser enters military service. It is a multi-megawatt chemical oxygen iodine laser (COIL) system designed to defend the United States from ballistic missile attacks. But aside from testing, the laser is almost never used due to the small number of countries that have the ability launch such missiles.

2016 - portable UV lasers are available

Improved pump diodes and lasing media have allowed UV lasers to be miniaturized to the point that they can be built in portable form. They are initially very expensive and output no more than a few milliwatts, but their prices will start to fall like for all other lasers.

2017 - laser companies are selling budget laser power meters

Commercial laser power meters are expensive instruments, ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars. As such, many laser hobbyists have resorted to using DIY power meters. Realizing the demand and marketing potential, some companies are now producing cheap, basic power meters. These devices have limited features and work with only a small range of wavelengths and outputs, but they are considered adequate for hobby use.

2018 - laser diodes with internal ESD protection

Traditional laser diodes are known for their extreme sensitivity to overvoltage and could be easily damaged by static discharges. Until now, the only means of protection against ESD was to ground the diode. However, newer ones now have built-in surge protection circuits that shield them from voltage spikes. These circuits also have the side benefit of increasing the diode's life.

2019 - construction of the HiPER facility is complete

The HiPER facility becomes operational after seven years of construction. At the heart of the facility is a multi-petawatt laser that fuses deuterium-tritium pellets. Despite the advances, it will be many more years of research before ICF power plants become available.

2020 - green handheld lasers lose their novelty factor

Red laser pointers started becoming popular in the late 1990s. They quickly became a fad among teenagers, and anyone with one usually attracted a lot of attention. But fun turned to annoyance when bored youths started using them to annoy others, such as in theaters and classrooms. As laser pointers became household items, the fad gradually died out. Although green lasers are also becoming more common, they do not proliferate as quickly due to their higher costs. Nevertheless, they will eventually lose their novelty factor at some point in time.

2022 - FDA loses oversight over non-medical lasers

Increased use of high-powered lasers has led to U.S. laser laws being refactored. For many years, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was responsible for regulating the use of lasers, which were considered medical devices. However, it has long been clear that most lasers were used for non-medical purposes. In response, the U.S. government transfers the oversight of non-medical lasers to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). As the CPSC is stricter than the FDA, this creates panic among some laser enthusiasts.

2025 - multi-wavelength laser diodes are available

Advances in materials engineering have paved the road to low-cost diodes that can emit laser light in more than one wavelength. These diodes can be configured to lase at just one wavelength, or all of them at once. This allows lasers to emit colors that are not part of the visible spectrum (such as white and pink) without additional equipment.

2026 - laser ignition patent expires

In 2006, Ford obtained a patent for its laser ignition system, which went into production in 2012. As the term of patent in the United States is 20 years, Ford's patent expires in 2026. Over the next few years, the market for laser spark plugs will expand rapidly. In time, laser hobbyists will start buying these spark plugs for the purpose of taking them apart.

2027 - diode lasers near 100% efficiency; DPSS lasers are becoming obsolete

Semiconductor diodes can now convert most of their input energy into laser light. Not only does this allow higher-powered lasers to be made, it also removes the need for bulky heatsinks, leading to a new trend in miniaturization. At the same time, DPSS lasers are being phased out as laser diodes can be made to lase in almost any wavelength.

2030 - research lasers break the exawatt barrier

The most powerful lasers can now output more than a quintillion (one million trillion) watts, although only in very short pulses. This was possible due to a combination of efficient lasing media and advanced power sources.

Although these lasers are intended for use in fusion experiments, similar lasers will be used in future particle accelerators.

2033 - tunable handheld lasers enter mainstream market

Traditional tunable lasers had very high prices and were found only in research labs. Although any laser can undergo small changes in wavelength, only a few types could be continuously tuned over a large range. Nowadays, advances in optical engineering have paved the road to multi-purpose laser diodes that can be set to lase at any wavelength in the infrared to ultraviolet range. These developments lead to the production of portable tunable lasers. They immediately become a fad, much like red laser pointers did in the late 1990s.

2035 - photonic computing makes use of nanoscale lasers

Since traditional silicon-based transistors have long reached their limits in miniaturization, the IT industry has focused on the development of alternatives. This leads to the production of optical processors, which were first demonstrated in the late 20th century. Instead of electrons, these devices use very small light pulses that are produced by nanoscale lasers. These optical processors are much faster than their silicon-based counterparts and also consume less power.

2037 - various types of lasers are being phased out

Aside from being able to lase at almost practically any wavelength, solid-state lasers now have several other advantages over gas, dye and chemical ones: they are more efficient and less bulky, and have little risk of releasing harmful chemicals when damaged (excimer lasers were among the worst offenders). As such, these older types of lasers are being replaced except in the realm of high output powers, which solid-state lasers cannot yet reliably produce.

2038 - continuous gigawatt-class lasers

In the early 2000s, military lasers could continuously output several million watts of power. Due to new energy production technologies, continuous multi-gigawatt lasers are now possible. Although these lasers were originally designed as weapons for the U.S. military, they also have peaceful uses, such as drilling and excavation.

2040 - ground-based anti-missile lasers are common at U.S. military bases

The United States began designing ground-based anti-missile laser systems in the late 20th century. By the start of the 2040s, these systems have become a common sight at U.S. military bases. Over the next few years, the U.S. will start supplying them to close allies. In time, they will begin replacing traditional anti-missile artillery.

2042 - "smart" lasers designed to reduce eye injury

In the early 21st century, the U.S. military developed various sniper detection systems, some of which worked by emitting laser pulses and picking up reflections from rifle scopes. To reduce the risk of eye injuries, some laser companies are now employing similar technology in their products: "smart" lasers that shut down automatically if it detects an eyeball within five degrees of the beam. But due to the increased laser safety awareness over the last few decades, many laser enthusiasts consider "smart" lasers to be unnecessary.

2045 - medical nanorobots use UV lasers

Due to advances in nanotechnology, medical nanorobots are beginning to replace traditional medicine. Using AI, these robots are programmed to treat only affected areas of the human body and minimize side effects. They are equipped with microscopic UV lasers that destroy harmful bacteria and viruses, and clear clogged arteries. Later versions of these nanorobots will be able to halt aging, giving humans an indefinite lifespan.

2050 - lasers of today

To a person from the 1990s, lasers of the mid-21st century may seem like alien technology. Handheld lasers, having a peak output of around 100 watts, can change colors at the turn of a dial. Portable laser show projectors have become a common sight. With the right resources, an ingenious laser enthusiast could build a pulsed laser that peaks at several gigawatts.

However, the changes have a greater impact on the defense and research sectors. Lab lasers sold on the Internet can now output several tens of kilowatts, while the top-end research lasers are thousands of times more powerful than those of the early 2000s. Anti-missile lasers, developed in the previous decade, could be seen at every military installation. ICF reactors are now in their final stages of testing and would be ready for deployment in the next few years.

2053 - ICF power plants are coming online

After several decades of research, ICF power plants are now producing power commercially. However, they are limited in number due to the large amount of "green" alternatives available.

2057 - laser companies celebrate 100 years of lasers

Gordon Gould built the first working laser in 1957. A hundred years later, lasers are almost ubiquitous. Although this milestone is not as notable as many other anniversaries, such as that of the Wright brothers' first flight, it nevertheless receives a lot of media attention. Laser companies celebrate the 100th anniversary of the invention of the laser by offering hefty discounts and holding contests.

2057 - laser lightning "rods"

Very powerful lasers were known to induce lightning due to their ability to ionize air, but scientists were unable to create actual cloud-to-ground strikes until the mid-21st century.

Laser lightning "rods" are now being used to protect buildings and other important infrastructure. A sensor scans thunderclouds for highly charged areas, where the laser sends a short multi-terawatt pulse. This creates a plasma channel, triggering a lightning strike.

2060 - "smart" goggles offer enhanced protection from eye injury

Traditional laser goggles could only filter small ranges of wavelengths and did not offer adequate protection for those who work with many different types of lasers at once. Safety glasses with different optical density (OD) ratings were also required for lasers with distinct outputs.

Higher OD ratings allow protective eyewear to block out more light, but they can also make lower-powered lasers hard to see. This can, in fact, be very dangerous.

However, nanotechnological advances have enabled the development of "smart" goggles. These goggles are comprised of microscopic components that can be individually adjusted to provide optimal filtering. Not only do these goggles offer protection at all wavelengths, they can also filter out different amounts of light at localized areas instead of having a uniform OD rating. For example, if a user looks at the dots projected by two lasers with different outputs through these goggles, the dots would appear to have the same brightness.

2064 - first light sail launched

The first experimental light sail is launched into space. It is first carried into low Earth orbit by a single-stage-to-orbit shuttle. Afterwards, a 100 megawatt laser begins propelling it towards the edge of the Solar System. This is an important milestone in space travel, but it will be many more decades before laser propulsion becomes powerful enough for practical interstellar travel.

2072 - laser rifles enter military service

Laser weapons were once considered impractical due to the various drawbacks associated with them, most notably the enormous power consumption. The problem was eventually solved following the invention of new power sources. This has led to the development of laser rifles, which can be fired in three modes: a continuous 10 kW beam, rapid fire 500 J bursts and a single 50 kJ pulse that takes some time to charge. This leads to an intense debate on whether these weapons violate the Protocol on Blinding Laser Weapons, which prohibits the use of laser weapons that are specifically designed to cause permanent blindness.

2086 - continuous terawatt-class lasers

The development of power sources that were unknown in the previous decades have led to the realization of continuous terawatt-class lasers.

On the other hand, they have a disadvantage that comes from their power: the interaction between the intense light and atmosphere can result in an explosive burst that can damage nearby equipment. Except in the vacuum of space, these lasers have limited uses.

2092 - lasers with near-zero divergence

In photonics, the divergence of an electromagnetic beam is inversely proportional to the diamater of the beam at the aperture. Due to diffraction, lasers beams with a smaller diameter will diverge faster, assuming the wavelength remains the same.

However, nanotechnology has advanced to the point that picotechnology is becoming practical. One application of this technology is the ability to control individual photons. Due to these advances, it is now possible to build lasers with a near-zero divergence.

2112 - antimatter-pumped lasers; research lasers break zettawatt barrier

Early lasers were usually pumped by flashlamps and diodes. By the 22nd century, many lasers are drawing their power from matter-antimatter reactions. This allows lasers to output almost unimaginable levels of power. For example, lasers capable of delivering pulses exceeding a seхtillion (a thousand billion billion) watts are now possible.

2130 - continuous petawatt-class lasers

Powered by matter-antimatter reactions, some lasers can now continuously output more than one quadrillion watts. This is roughly equivalent to the detonation of a 250-kiloton nuclear weapon every second. These lasers will one day be able to propel interstellar spacecraft into deep space.

2137 - lasers used for interstellar communication

Interstellar travel is becoming possible, thanks to advances in space exploration technology. One early design of an interstellar craft is based on Project Longshot: it uses a 250 kW laser to transmit data back to Earth as it flies towards Alpha Centauri at about 10% of the speed of light.

2144 - first interstellar light sail launched

Earth's first interstellar light sail is launched around this time. The sail, with a diameter of 1.5 km, is compacted into a capsule. After it is launched into space, it unfolds into its full size. A 5 TW laser then propels the craft towards Barnard's Star, located about 5.98 light-years away. It reaches a velocity of around 0.15 c.

2186 - light sails can now reach relativistic velocities

Propelled by extremely powerful lasers, the light sails of today can reach velocities in excess of 0.5 c, at which the relativistic effects of time dilation become apparent. These spacecraft can also carry very large loads, such as a human crew. However, very few of the bravest humans are willing to embark on such journeys due to the psychological effects of long interstellar trips.
 
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Trevor

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This is probably an anticlimactic response... but I don't think DPSS is going to go out so quickly. I thought the beam specs were comparatively much better than diodes?

Or was that an old document I read?

-Trevor
 

ixfd64

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Yes, it's true that DPSS lasers generally have better specs than diode ones, but I have a strong feeling that diodes are going to be vastly improved over the next few decades.
 

Trevor

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Yes, it's true that DPSS lasers generally have better specs than diode ones, but I have a strong feeling that diodes are going to be vastly improved over the next few decades.
But we're not going to stop developing DPSS altogether, are we? Wouldn't it advance too? :thinking:

-Trevor
 
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I want what he's on. :thinking:

EDIT: The more I think about it, maybe I dont.
 
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rtyrty100

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Don't forget once handheld lasers reach kilowatts, lightsabers are abound.

Also pulsed lasers with tens of kilowatts, creating blaster pistols seen in star wars.

The current top laser developed by Northrop Grumman can slice through helicopters and airplanes. Develop that into a hand held and you get the above.
 

mfo

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Don't forget once handheld lasers reach kilowatts, lightsabers are abound.

Also pulsed lasers with tens of kilowatts, creating blaster pistols seen in star wars.

The current top laser developed by Northrop Grumman can slice through helicopters and airplanes. Develop that into a hand held and you get the above.
Lightsabers aren't even made from lasers.
 
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But we're not going to stop developing DPSS altogether, are we? Wouldn't it advance too? :thinking:

-Trevor
Yes, to a point. DPSS technology is inferior to diodes in some very important ways:

Diodes are extremely stabe in terms of power output and transverse modes.

Single-mode diodes respond linearly to changes in current, making them the only real option for many forms of data transmission. Multi-mode diodes don't respond linearly, but they are very much more predictable than DPSS.

To make a DPSS system anywhere near as stable as diodes costs $$$$$, and even the VERY BEST (Coherent, JDSU, Melles Griot, etc) DPSS lasers don't respond well or predictably to modulation.

The obvious conclusion would be that the ideal laser would be a diode that produces a TEM00 gaussian beam, whether directly from the diode of through the use of external optics. There are systems today that come close, but due to the nature of a true TEM00 beam (like that of most HeNes for example) it is impossible today to produce it with a semiconductor cavity only <1mm long.. who knows what tomorrow will bring, though.
 
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Yes, to a point. DPSS technology is inferior to diodes in some very important ways:

Diodes are extremely stabe in terms of power output and transverse modes.

Single-mode diodes respond linearly to changes in current, making them the only real option for many forms of data transmission. Multi-mode diodes don't respond linearly, but they are very much more predictable than DPSS.

To make a DPSS system anywhere near as stable as diodes costs $$$$$, and even the VERY BEST (Coherent, JDSU, Melles Griot, etc) DPSS lasers don't respond well or predictably to modulation.

The obvious conclusion would be that the ideal laser would be a diode that produces a TEM00 gaussian beam, whether directly from the diode of through the use of external optics. There are systems today that come close, but due to the nature of a true TEM00 beam (like that of most HeNes for example) it is impossible today to produce it with a semiconductor cavity only <1mm long.. who knows what tomorrow will bring, though.
You are forgetting one thing, companies don't give a shit about the hobbiest market, it is such a small little blip on the radar, that they don't care. There is a reason why Coherent doesn't make a hobbiest level power meter, not because they can't, but because the market is not worth it. Nobody cares about modulation besides people doing laser shows, which again, are such a small niche that companies don't care. A DPSS with a AOM will beat out any diode.
 
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Modulation is also important for data transfer, albeit only using data pulses instead of analog waveforms. Also, scanning is used in many forms of industry, and I'm sure they modulate (perhaps with an AOM today, but undoubtedly things will change in the future). Surely a simple laser with the low cost, stability, simplicity of use, and predictability of a diode but the beam quality of DPSS or gas is something someone would feel important enough to work on developing.. otherwise why even have VCSELs at all? Why stay tied to overly-complex DPSS technology when the smartest course of action would be to do what all the rest of the technology world does and invest in smaller, more efficient, and cheaper ways to get the job done? We are, after all, discussing time periods up to 50-100 years from now in this thread. To me, it's like preferring a light bulb over an LED. Today,there are times when a light bulb is the only good option, but more and more LEDs are taking over. 50 years from now light bulbs will be thoroghly obsolete.
 

vitalyx

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Very nice, but when I saw you are going past 2060... man, I don't expect to live that long :cool: So I stopped right there. Your "roadmap" will probably have to be updated several times before that date hits.

Oh, and will a car with this laser ignition start at -22 degrees Fahrenheit?
 

HIMNL9

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I LOL'd at this one, sorry:

2018 - laser diodes with internal ESD protection
Are already 10 years that ESD protection chips are available, and that are mounted in some ICs and devices, and the smallest one that i've seen was 1/4 of mm the last year ..... IF they wanted, any of the diodes may have them mounted inside, from years ..... ;)
 




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