Guiding Light with Light

Hannah Lanford

Howard Milchberg’s lab is working on atmospheric waveguides that could someday direct megawatt-scale beams across kilometer-scale distances.

Laser in a hallwayA laser is sent down a hallway at the University of Maryland (UMD), USA, in an experiment to corral light as it makes a 45-m journey. [Intense Laser-Matter Interactions Lab, UMD, CC BY-ND]

It was an unexpected place for a laser experiment. Last year, researchers led by Howard Milchberg at the University of Maryland (UMD), USA, fired high-powered laser pulses down a 50-m-long hallway at the university. Those pulses, in turn, sculpted a channel through which the team was able to send a second laser beam ( Beyond the offbeat experimental setting, the successful 45-m run represented a 60-times increase in the length of such “air waveguides” that the UMD-led team has achieved thus far.

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