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Lasers Could Turn Earth's Own Atmosphere Into Defensive Shield

A new lens developed by engineers at BAE Systems (London, UK) could be used as a form of 'deflector shield' to protect aircraft, ships, and land vehicles from incoming attacks by high-power laser weapons that could become a reality in the next fifty years. The Laser Developed Atmospheric Lens (LDAL) concept temporarily changes the Earth's atmosphere into lens-like structures to magnify or change the path of electromagnetic waves such as light and radio signals. LDAL simulates two existing effects in nature - the reflective properties of the ionosphere and desert mirages - by using a high-pulsed power laser system and exploiting a physics phenomena called the 'Kerr Effect' to heat a small region of atmosphere in a structured way. Mirrors, glass lenses, and structures like Fresnel zone plates could all be replicated using the atmosphere, allowing the physics of refraction, reflection, and diffraction to be exploited.