Features

Carbon-Based Curtain Absorbs Stray Laser Light

Applications such as laser surgery might soon use black velvet to absorb radiation. Energy Science Laboratories, Inc. (ESLI, San Diego, CA) has developed a lightweight, carbon-based velvet-lined curtain that can be affixed to a surrounding metal hull, known as a beam dump, to catch and absorb stray light and radiation emitted by a highpower laser.

The concept of a velvet curtain emerged from a 2004 Missile Defense Agency (MDA) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase II contract for ESLI to design a lightweight beam dump for MDA’s Airborne Laser program. Testing was conducted at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the Naval Research Laboratory, and various Army sites during the contract period that concluded late last year. The company is now continuing its quest to achieve an advanced technology readiness level by making the curtains available to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

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Stray radiation emitted from high-power laser beams, such as the one shown here, may be further minimized by ESLI’s energy-absorbing velvet curtains.
ESLI’s involvement in velvet-based technologies spans more than two decades, and the company holds four carbon- velvet-architecture patents. While the MDA-funded curtains are specifically designed to suppress unwanted emissions from high-yield airborne lasers, the carbonbased fabric can be used in other applications. One example with widespread use is lining telescope walls with black velvet, which would act as a stray-light suppressor. ESLI anticipates carbon-velvet curtains might someday be converted to suppress expended energy from smaller, less powerful lasers, like
those used in laser surgery.