Researchers have devised a way to curve laser beams in the air by converting a standard directional beam into a self-bending Airy beam. The development may help with atmospheric applications, particularly with the ability to redirect lightning to keep it from striking sensitive areas such as industrial plants or airports.

Scientists led by Dr. Pavel Polynkin, associate research professor of optical sciences at the University of Arizona, and by professor Demetrios Christodoulides of the Center for Research and Education in Optics and LasersCollege of Optics and Photonics at the University of Central Florida in Orlando have created complex laser beam profiles to produce ultrafast self-bending laser beams.