Can an Electro-Laser use AC (Alternating Current)?

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Offline Simple Simon

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You know those electro lasers the military was working on a few years ago? They ionize a plasma channel through the air with a laser, then send electricity through the plasma like a wire. I was curious if you could get AC working with such a system, or if it has to be strictly DC.

I'm sorry if this should be obvious to me. Please forgive my ignorance.


Offline evan_au

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Re: Can an Electro-Laser use AC (Alternating Current)?
« Reply #1 on: 24/07/2016 22:44:22 »
What makes it difficult is that the magnetic fields associated with a changing electric current tend to push the current to a thin ring with high impedance, through the skin effect.

The skin effect is more pronounced with AC than with DC; but even rapid ramp-up of DC current is associated with very high frequency components.

According to the link below, AC has often been used as it is easier to produce the high voltages necessary to maintain a discharge path.

Another major problem with such weapons is that as soon as you ionize air with a laser, the plasma then becomes opaque to the laser, and ionization fades beyond the first point with a plasma. So you first have to generate the plasma close to the target, then focus in to extend the plasma closer to the laser before the electric current can flow. Having an electrical return path for the current would also be problematic.