Researchers at the University of Central Florida in Orlando (UCF) and the University of Arizona in Tucson (UA) report in “Science” this week that they have found a way to bend a high-intensity pulsed laser beam, a breakthrough they are hoping will help them better understand how ultra-intense laser pulses travel through the air and find potential new uses for the technology.

Ultra-intense lasers hold much promise for improving scientific tools such as laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS), and deepening researchers’ understanding of atomic, molecular, optical and plasma physics. The enormous intensity of these lasers (attributed to the brief but powerful pulses of energy they emit), however, makes it difficult for scientists to fully characterize and understand them.

To learn more read Larry Greenemeier’s complete story on the Scientific American Web site.