By Paul Rincon Science reporter, BBC News 2/22/07
A laser developed for military use is a few steps away from hitting a power threshold thought necessary to turn it into a battlefield weapon.
The Solid State Heat Capacity Laser (SSHCL) has achieved 67 kilowatts (kW) of average power in the laboratory.
It could take only a further six to eight months to break the "magic" 100kW mark required for the battlefield, the project's chief scientist told the BBC.
For many years, solid state, electrically powered lasers like SSHCL were only able to operate at a fraction of the 100kW mark.
I know of no other solid state laser that has achieved 67kW of average output power Bob Yamamoto, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
"I know of no other solid state laser that has achieved 67kW of average output power," Dr Yamamoto, from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, told BBC News.
"We believe we hold the world's record for this."
Pros and cons
The news was announced at an army science conference in Orlando, Florida, and reported by the website Defensetech.org.
The US military has been researching laser weaponry since the 1960s. But the technology has struggled to live up to high hopes; directed energy weapons projects have failed to enter the battlefield ...full text