Aussie scientists invent 'Death Star' laser

The Death Star in action (Lucasfilm/Disney)
The Death Star in action (Lucasfilm/Disney)

Scientists in Australia have figured out how to combine several small laser beams into one, much more powerful beam.

If that sounds familiar, it's because that's just how the Death Star from the original Star Wars movies works.

The trick the Macquarie University researchers discovered was to use an "ultrapure" diamond crystal at the point where the beams converge.

"The fundamental problem is that the laser materials struggle to dissipate the very large waste heat load," Rich Mildren, an associate professor of physics, told website Live Science.

"There are technologies on the verge of having enough power, but heat build-up causes the beam to flare and power to drop leading to a lack of power on target."

Rather than blow up planets, scientists say super-lasers could be used to disable enemy drones and missiles, or deflect incoming asteroids.

"Such high-power lasers are also potentially useful in management of space junk, propulsion of small space vehicles and beaming power to remote locations," said Prof Mildren.

The research was published in journal Laser and Photonics Review.