Missile lasers to aid turbine blade crack detection

US Air Force funded research aimed at developing lasers for missile defence and remote sensing produces coherent X-Rays that could prove very useful in imaging thick samples such as gas turbine blades in order to identify cracks


The research is being undertaken by a husband and wife team, Dr. Henry Kapteyn and professor Margaret Murnane at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

In their method, an intense femtosecond laser is focused into a gas-filled hollow waveguide. The interaction between the laser pulse and the atoms in the gas is sufficiently strong to violently accelerate electrons, resulting in the liberation of energy as a coherent beam of X-rays.

"Our research straddles the boundary between laser science and technology," Ms. Murnane said. "We take ideas all the way from conception to integration in systems that can then be used by other scientists. This takes a team of physicists, engineers and chemists all working together. We discovered that the interaction of atoms and molecules is both useful for making coherent X-rays which, in the future, may image previously undetectable cracks in jet turbine blades. After a number of years of exploiting the laser technology that we already developed, we are now planning a new push for high-power laser technologies."

For more information: http://www.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123121049&page=1

Tom Shelley

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