Liquid crystal technology may prevent idiots from distracting pilots with laser pointers – BGR


In the long list of things you should never do, shining a laser pointer on an airplane is definitely very close to the top. They may look harmless when you are using a laser pointer to play with your cat, but the light beams produced by the tiny tools can be detrimental to the pilot's orientation and even cause vision damage when they hit a cockpit.

Literally, thousands of reports of laser "attacks" on airplanes are reported by pilots every year, and idiots who do this sort of thing simply do not seem to understand the hint. Researchers have now come up with a way for pilots to fight against the idiots with a new windshield technology that essentially kills the lasers before they can cause a problem.

In a presentation at this year's spring meeting of the American Chemical Society, researchers are presenting a new type of material that could be added to aircraft windshields in the not-so-distant future.

The material uses a liquid crystal solution between two layers of glass. When the special liquid crystal formulation is usually transparent, but when it receives an electric charge, it becomes more opaque. Combined with a sensor that detects when the aircraft is being directed by a laser beam, the material automatically blocks the incoming laser.

According to the team who developed the system, the liquid crystal barrier can block up to 95% of the lasers in a variety of colors, including the most common: red, green and blue. This is particularly important since the prior laser mitigation technology generally addresses only certain laser colors and does not affect others.

"We wanted to come up with a solution that did not require the complete reengineering of the windshield of an aircraft, but rather add a layer to the glass that leverages the existing windshield energy system," Daniel Maurer, a graduate student of Lewis University, who worked on the project, said in a statement.

In the future, this technology could be applied to existing aircraft with little modification, protecting pilots of laser pointers from the ground without requiring a completely new windshield or other more complex upgrades.

Image Source: Steve Meddle / REX / Shutterstock


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