Laser technologies

The development of new laser sources for defence applications includes research on new lasing materials (holmium, erbium), nonlinear crystals such as zinc germanium phosphide (ZGP), doped fibres, non-planar optical parametric oscillators (OPOs) and innovative diode pumping schemes for lasers from 1.6 µm to beyond 5 µm.

Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs) range from basic research on laser components to highly ruggedised prototypes and from small-scale lasers for countermeasures to eyesafe high-energy sources in the context of laser effectors.

  • High-energy eyesafe lasers
  • Laser in the range of near- and mid-infrared wavelengths (1.6 µm – 5 µm) and connected countermeasures
  • Latest laser technologies and components

Power semiconductor devices & pulsed power technologies

ISL is consolidating and further developing a unique SiC-thyristor technology. ISL also offers internationally renowned services in device characterisation with its PASChAC platform. Pulsed-power supply research focuses on the development of compact inductive XRAM generators, including the related primary energy source based on Li-ion batteries, and on repetitive high-voltage liquid-dielectric pulse-forming switches, thus allowing sub-nanosecond pulse widths and a world- record breakdown field of 14 MV/cm.

  • Development of components for pulsed power applications
  • Power supply technologies for pulsed high-power applications

Electromagnetic acceleration

Railguns are linear electromagnetic launchers that can accelerate macroscopic bodies to velocities above 2000 m/s. This technique has huge potential for both military and civil applications. ISL’s railgun facilities are unique in Europe.

The 10 MJ installation PEGASUS is being used to advance the launcher and armature technology towards a reliable half-scale long range artillery system. Recent results include the successful launch of in-house developed launch packages (mass range is kg) for hypervelocity (> 2500 m/s) projectile acceleration. The ISL launch technology sets worldwide accepted standards with regard to the efficiency of the conversion of electric energy into kinetic energy (> 35%).

RAFIRA is a railgun (25 mm2 caliber) with which a salvo up to five shots can be launched at extremely high fire rates. In single shot mode, RAFIRA can accelerate projectiles in the mass range of 100 grams to velocities of more than 2400 m/s corresponding to acceleration levels of more than 100 000 g. This launcher is used to investigate the potential use of railgun technology for anti-ship missile scenarios. Operational research analysis has led to the conclusion that fire rates of over 50 Hz are necessary to defend against hypersonic Missiles.

  • Electromagnetic launchers