Diamonds may be a girl’s best friend, but it looks like they’re becoming a drone’s best friend too.
A Swiss company has developed a way to recharge drones in flight.Their secret weapon? Diamonds.
A startup called LakeDiamond has developed lab-grown diamonds intended to be able to recharge drones in flight. Why diamonds? Diamonds are an excellent conductor of heat and the most transparent material in the world, making them useful in the production of powerful lasers.
In the future, we may see diamonds recharging drones while aloft using a power beaming system: an energy-rich laser beam that is guided by a tracking system and shines directly on photovoltaic cells on the drones’ exterior.
Here’s how it works:
- LakeDiamond grows diamonds in their lab through a process of chemical vapor deposition, an approach that ensures their purity and reproducibility. The diamonds have high transparency and thermal conductivity.
- The diamonds are then sculpted into specific etched shapes at the atomic level, allowing them to transfer heat to a small metal plate that dissipates it, while at the same time reflecting light in such a way as to create a laser beam.
- That laser beam is what is able to recharge photovoltaic cells on the drones’ surface. The laser beam has a wavelength of 1.5 µm that, in addition to being safe, can travel much farther without losing strength.
- LakeDiamond’s technology transforms the rays emitted by a simple low-power diode into a high-quality laser beam. Their beam has a larger diameter, and its rays remain parallel over a longer distance – in this case up to several hundred meters.
- The light produced by a diode is directed at a booster composed of reflective material, an optical component and a small metal plate to absorb the heat.
LakeDiamond says their system holds the world record for continuous operation using a wavelength in the middle of the infrared range, delivering more than 30 watts in its base configuration, equivalent to around 10,000 laser pointers.
LakeDiamond is a spinoff startup from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology’s incubator program. The startup says their system poses no threat to human health because their laser emits a wavelength that cannot damage human skin or eyes.