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I recently read an article that explained how the US Navy would like to use laser guns in the infrared region, with a high power - 500,000 W I guess.

However, because of Rayleigh scattering that implies higher frequency waves would get scattered pretty fast, this could really affect the whole project right? Is it possible to collimate this beam appropriately? As it is in light's nature to spread out due to its wave characteristics.

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You are right that there is some Rayleigh scattering. However, losses due to Rayleigh scattering are very small. More important is the wavefront distortion that results from air turbulence and temperature or humidity variations in the atmosphere the beam must pass through. For long-distance propagation of a laser beam through the atmosphere, it's necessary to pre-distort the wavefront so that the atmosphere reverses the predistortion. But because the atmosphere is constantly changing, the pre-distortion must be changed continuously in just the right way to compensate. This is usually accomplished by observing light reflected back from the target. Wavefront distortions in the reflected light inform the control system how to predistort the outgoing wavefront to focus on the target. For distances of a few hundred meters wavefront distortions due to the atmosphere aren't very important, but at ranges of kilometers and more, they are extremely important.

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