Skip to content

Perspectives of solar sails powered by single frequency fiber lasers

A solar sail, also known as light sail or photon sail, is a form of spacecraft propulsion using radiation pressure exerted by sunlight on large mirrors. The sail experiences a force exerted by light that can be compared to a sail being blown by the wind. High-energy laser beams have a potential to be used as an alternative light source for the solar sail. High power lasers are expected to exert much greater force than would be possible using sunlight; this concept is often referred to as ‘beam sailing’.
The concept of using laser beams to exert a force on the solar sail mirrors in its main concepts closely relates to beam-powered propulsion. The beam used in beam-powered propulsion systems can be either pulsed or continuous. Typically, a continuous beam lends itself to thermal rockets, photonic thrusters and solar sails. Since lasers can heat propellants to very high temperatures, this improves the efficiency of a rocket as exhaust velocity is proportional to the square root of the temperature. Applications of laser propulsion for quick terrestrial travel have also been proposed.
Laser beams have a potential to be used directly to ‘push’ the solar sail. A concept of a laser-pushed solar sail has been proposed; this method would help to avoid extremely high mass ratios. There are certain requirements that lasers have to meet in order to be used for laser-pushed solar sailing. The laser beam diameter has to be large so that only a small portion of the beam misses the sail; this would happen due to diffraction. The pointing stability of the laser has to be good enough to allow for a fast tilt of the aircraft in order to follow the center of the beam, which is particularly important for interstellar travel.
It is expected that a single frequency lasers, including single frequency fiber lasers, would be a good approximation to perfectly coherent light. Single mode lasers are predicted to be one of the best solutions for solar sail laser propulsion.
In the time of innovation and rapid technological development, it is important for scientists and engineers to obtain the highest quality technological solutions available on the market. Fiber laser systems are proved to be superior to most other laser types, therefore they are often used at the forefront of the innovations, including space technology. Single frequency fiber lasers provide new opportunities for the development of state-of-the-art technologies for space travel.
Optromix is a single frequency fiber laser vendor; we design and manufacture a broad variety of lasers, like Erbium lasers and DUV lasers, however, we specialize in the design of single frequency fiber lasers. We manufacture lasers using our own technologies based on the advanced research work and patents of international R&D team.Laser processes are high quality, high precision, easily-automated manufacturing solutions that provide repeatability and flexibility. We prioritize the needs of our clients and we are always dedicated to creating unique and innovative technologies.