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New laser capable of identifying substances could have military applications


Using commercially-available telecommunications technology, engineers from the University of Michigan have developed a laser capable of detecting substance compositions from the Earth’s atmosphere. According to the report in the journal Optics Letters, the laser could help military aircraft identify dangers below, such as weapons arsenals.

By emitting a high-range frequency broadband beam of infrared light, known as the “spectral fingerprinting range,” the laser systems utilizes the resulting echoes to detect the molecular vibrations of solid substances, based on which wavelengths of light are absorbed and which are reflected. Analyzing the reflected infrared light will indicate the chemical composition of the target substance.

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