Swiss Start-Up Fires Up Laser-based Drone Charger

Few drone pilots enjoy the often-tedious process of charging their UAV of choice. However, several new technologies are taking off that make powering up a breeze – from charging pile technology to landing-pad stations to portable compact chargers.

But laser beams? That’s science-fiction, right? Not anymore.

The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, Switzerland last week announced the launch of LakeDiamond, a start-up developing lab-grown diamonds that can be used to recharge drones in flight via lasers.

Lab-grown diamonds can focus laser beams with enough energy to stay stable over long distances – powerful enough to charge recharge photovoltaic cells on a drone in flight.

“This system poses no threat to human health since LakeDiamond’s laser emits a wavelength that cannot damage human skin or eyes – the issue of safety being paramount if the system is to be used with civilian drones. This technology could also be used to transmit both power and data to satellites,” a media statement notes.

Similar laser systems are already used for military application; however, they emit beams too powerful for use near people. LakeDiamond’s technology transforms the rays emitted by a low-power diode into a high-efficiency laser beam with a larger diameter over a longer distance of up to several hundred meters.

A LakeDiamond spokesperson explains:

“The breakthrough lies not with this set-up, which already exists, but with the fact that the emitted beam is only a few dozen watts strong. The secret is using a small square lab-grown diamond as the optical component, as this delivers unparalleled performance. LakeDiamond’s system holds the world record for continuous operation using a wavelength in the middle of the infrared range – it delivers more than 30 watts in its base configuration. That’s equivalent to around 10,000 laser pointers.”

LakeDiamond grows its diamonds through a process of chemical vapor deposition to ensure purity and reproducibility. The surfaces of the resulting tiny square diamonds are then sculpted at the nano level, allowing the gems to transfer heat to a small metal plate that dissipates it while at the same time reflecting light to create a laser beam.

Jason is a longstanding contributor to DroneLife with an avid interest in all things tech. He focuses on anti-drone technologies and the public safety sector; police, fire, and search and rescue.

Beginning his career as a journalist in 1996, Jason has since written and edited thousands of engaging news articles, blog posts, press releases and online content.

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