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Measurement and Modeling of High Energy Laser (HEL)-Droplet Interactions

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Technical Report

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U.S. Naval Academy Annapolis

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With the advent of lasers as weapons, it is necessary to understand how a laser propagates through a complex medium. For the U.S. Navy, the complexity of a maritime environment imposes particular challenges for laser propagation due to high concentrations of water vapor and high probabilities of liquid water in the form of fog, rain, or sea spray along the beam path. Although considerable research has gone into characterizing the maritime environment and simulating laser propagation through water vapor and turbulence, the interactions between a high energy laser HEL and liquid water are poorly understood. A project is taking place in the U.S. Naval Academys Directed Energy Research Center to investigate the interaction of a high energy laser and single water droplets. An HEL is used to irradiate droplets of water, and the droplet shape and size, the infrared radiation from the droplet, and the transmitted beam profile are measured and recorded. To control the droplet shape, it will be levitated using a commercial ultrasonic levitator, where the drop is held in place at a node by the pressure from a standing sound wave. The results of this experiment will provide an understanding of the coupled interaction between an HEL and a water droplet.

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