Whether it’s done accidentally or with malice, blinding airplane pilots with lasers pointed at the windows of cockpits has become a serious problem. From the Lasers and aviation safety Wikipedia entry,
Pointing a laser at an aircraft can be hazardous to pilots and has resulted in arrests, trials and jail sentences. It also results in calls to license or ban laser pointers.
A June 3, 2015 news item on Nanowerk describes a Lewis University technology that could help minimize this problem. (Lewis University is a private university located in the state of Illinois, US; Note: A link has been removed),
A recently published Journal of Aviation Technology and Engineering article (“Measuring the Effectiveness of Photoresponsive Nanocomposite Coatings on Aircraft Windshields to Mitigate Laser Intensity”) shows Lewis University researchers have created a coating for aircraft that reduces pilot distraction from laser attacks.
In [sic] 2013 study, Lewis University proved these laser attacks, which average around 3,750 incidents a year, can be a distraction to pilots and a potential safety hazard during critical phases of flight. As part of continued research on the matter, Lewis University recently developed a practical and economical solution through the use of photoresponsive nanocomposite coatings on aircraft windscreens.
The most recent study determined the application of the engineered films resulted in a reduction in laser intensity from 36-88 percent.
A June 2, 2015 Lewis University news release, which originated the news item, provides a bit more detail about the research (Note: Links have been removed),
The study was completed through collaboration of the Aviation, Physics and Chemistry departments at Lewis University. The Chemistry Department developed the photoselective coatings, and the Physics Department developed the apparatus to efficiently test the coatings while allowing safe viewings of laser illumination. The coatings were bench-tested in a laboratory prior to conducting field tests at the 200- and 500-foot distances.
I was unfamiliar with Lewis University so was happy to see the news release fill in a few blanks (Note: Links have been removed),
This research was sponsored, in part, by a grant from the Colonel Stephan S. and Lyla Doherty Center for Aviation and Health Research. The Doherty Center funds research and scholarly initiatives and provides opportunities for research experiences for students with faculty mentors. Investigators supported by the Doherty Center have focused on several areas, such as cardiac therapy, wound management, flight deck laser illumination, the environment, diabetes, MRSA, and alternative fuels for aviation.
Since 1932, Lewis University has led the field of aviation education by preparing students from around the world to succeed in the aviation industries. An on-site airport, experienced and industry-leading faculty, personalized learning, degree programs that provide you with specialized experience and a well-rounded business, management and liberal arts education have made Lewis University’s aviation program one of the most respected in Illinois.
Lewis University is a Catholic university in the Lasallian tradition offering distinctive undergraduate and graduate programs to more than 6,700 traditional and adult students. Lewis offers multiple campus locations, online degree programs, and a variety of formats that provide accessibility and convenience to a growing student population. Sponsored by the De La Salle Christian Brothers, Lewis prepares intellectually engaged, ethically grounded, globally connected, and socially responsible graduates. The seventh largest private not-for-profit university in Illinois, Lewis has been nationally recognized by The Princeton Review and U.S. News & World Report. Visit www.lewisu.edu for further information.
Here’s a link to and a citation for the paper,
Measuring the Effectiveness of Photoresponsive Nanocompsite Coatings on Aircraft Windshields to Mitigate Laser Intensity by Ryan S. Phillips, Hubert K. Bilan, Zachary X. Widel, Randal J. DeMik, Samantha J. Brain, Matthew Moy, Charles Crowder, Stanley L. Harriman, James T. O’Malley III, Joseph E. Burlas, Steven F. Emmert, & Jason J. Keleher. Journal of Aviation Technology and Engineering (2015): Vol. 4: Iss. 2, Article 5. http://dx.doi.org/10.7771/2159-6670.1105
This paper is open access.