What a time to be alive. Thanks to laboratory grown diamonds, scientists have finally constructed the Diamond Satellite orbital laser weapon from the 1971 James Bond movie “Diamonds are Forever.”

Why Synthetic Diamonds

While scientists at the University of Strathclyde are indeed British, and while they have created lasers that use diamonds, their motives are, thankfully, not evil. They have created a next generation laser with some interesting capabilities by leveraging the unique properties of single crystal laboratory grown diamonds. Synthetic diamonds are excellent thermal conductors, and can remove heat from a laser cavity very quickly and effectively. This feature means that the diamonds can be used to shift the wavelength emitted by the laser, allowing scientists to access new wavelengths, or colors, that are hard to produce by other methods.  

The laser that they have created can be used to treat vascular lesions or retinal bleeding of blood vessels at the back of the eyes. One of the lasers’ main advantages is that it can be tuned to emit “custom” wavelengths of light from UV to IR, in order to fill in existing gaps.

Another advantage is that you can achieve the same big power with a ten times smaller crystal. This particular type of laser that the University of Strathclyde team modified is called a Raman laser. In a Raman laser, a beam of light of one color is converted to another color that is better suited for a particular application.