The U.S. military has developed a sound gun that sends off a 130 decibel rumble, according to a report by Defense One. Named the Laser-Induced Plasma Effect (LIPE), the weapon will be tested by American forces in the coming months.
LIPE manipulates matter and energy to create sounds which are precisely directed at a target.
The sound is created when the weapon fires energy in spurts that last around a billionth of a second. The energy fired creates a ball of plasma by separating electrons and nuclei when it reaches the target, which could be a person, object, or a designated space. Sound is formed when the plasma ball meets pulses of laser energy without any trace of where it came from.
“We’ve demonstrated it in the lab at very short ranges. But we haven’t been able to demonstrate it at even 100 meters. That’s … the next step,” said David Law, the technology division chief at the U.S. Department of Defense’s Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Program (JNLWD).
The program works to develop weapons and other technologies used to incapacitate targeted individuals or material, while also minimizing the risk of fatality, permanent injury, or undesired damage.
In comparison to other military endeavors, the total price tag of the LIPE project will be a reasonable $3 million. The payments will be made in two $1.5 million small-business-innovation-research contracts to Physical Optics Corporation, which will work on lighting effects, and the Arizona-based GEOST, which will work on the sound portion of the project.
JNLWD made a foray into creating unique effects using plasma in 2002 when it ran a program called Pulsed Energy Projectile for the purpose of creating a sound that could “literally knock rioters off their feet,” according to a report by New Scientist. The program was eventually ended.
Whether the LIPE project will work should be determined within the next year. In addition to wanting to demonstrate the sound at a 100 meter (about 328 feet) distance within the next few months, Law hopes to test the entire program by May 2016.