The device would fry targets that conduct electricity
Thought that title might get your attention, but shooting lightning bolts down laser beams is just what a device being developed at the Picatinny Arsenal military research facility in New Jersey is designed to do. Known as a Laser-Induced Plasma Channel, or LIPC, the device would fry targets that conduct electricity better that the air or ground that surrounds them by steering lightning bolts down a plasma pathway created by laser beams.
The pathway takes the form of an electrically conductive plasma channel that is formed when a laser beam of enough intensity (a 50 billion watt pulse lasting two-trillionths of a second will do) forms an electro-magnetic field strong enough to ionize the surrounding air to form plasma. Because the plasma channel conducts electricity much better than the non-ionized air that surrounds it, electrical energy will travel down the channel.
Then, when it hits its target – an enemy vehicle, person or unexploded ordnance, for example – the current will flow through the target as it follows the path of least resistance to the ground, potentially disabling the vehicle or person and detonating the ordnance. The lightning will also deviate from the channel when it gets close to the target and finds a lower-resistance path to the ground.
Gizmag – Darren Quick
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