Non-Lethal Laser Technologies to Be Used in Riots


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The US Pentagon has been developing innovative non-lethal technologies. Its Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate (JNLWD) is on the brink of developing a laser system that burns balls of plasma into the air — and manipulates them to create sound. The technology can serve as a source of battlefield confusion, such as a volley of gunshots coming from an unexpected direction. The device can also be applied as a ‘noisemaker’ — similar to the grenades used by police and troops to stun and disorient opponents. Such a variety of specifically-targeted uses could be applied to crowd control, hostage situations, covert operations as well as battlefield psychological warfare.

According to, one laser, called a femtosecond laser, shoots out pulses of light to create small balls of plasma — a highly charged bubble of gas. A second laser, a nano laser, can be shot at this plasma ball to generate a variety of effects. Users can tune this laser for a variety of outcomes: light, sound, heat.

The Pentagon researchers are currently working on refining the system enough for them to replicate a human voice. It hopes it will be ready for deployment within three years.

The Weapon’s Directorate is also developing a technology that uses microwaves to disable vehicle electrical systems. One uses dazzling lights to disorient targets.