General Atomics and Boeing’s new liquid laser could win high-energy weapon race

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The powerful, compact HELLADS liquid laser

The military has been striving to build a laser powerful enough to make an effective weapon literally since the first ruby laser was demonstrated back in 1960. Now General Atomics is working with Boeing BA +6.8% to finally realize the goal of a truly weapons-grade laser using new ‘liquid laser’ technology to break through the barrier holding back current devices.

The original ruby laser had an output of a fraction of watt, and could not be scaled up. Many other types of laser have been developed over the last sixty years, with generous military funding channeled into those that showed weapons potential. The gas dynamic laser, which resembled a lasing reaction taking place inside a rocket motor, was highly classified in the 1970s. One researcher joked that the best way to harm an enemy with such a massive a laser was to drop it on them.

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