ALEXANDER TSIARAS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY ALEXANDER TSIARAS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Star Wars research: the free electron laser (FEL) under development at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. The FEL produces an essentially perfect high-power laser beam which can be focused to a small spot on a distant target & which is limited only by natural diffraction. The FEL beam is produced by shining light through a magnetic field containing a beam of high-energy electrons; light whose frequency of vibration is the same as the electrons is selected & becomes amplified by extracting energy from the electrons. High-power laser beam weapons form a major part of America's Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) - the "Star Wars" program.
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