200A Ojo de la Vaca Road, Santa Fe, NM 87508 USA



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Photonic Associates, LLC (PALLC) is a Santa Fe high-tech company founded by Dr. Claude Phipps in 1995. We are a veteran-owned company which provides theoretical and experimental investigations of systems using laser-surface interactions - especially in the new field of laser space propulsion which we helped create. We became a partnership in 2004.  

We have completed contracts for NASA, AFOSR, AFRL Edwards, DoD, MDA and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), as well as several commercial entities.

You can browse Dr. Phipps' selected publications here.


Expertise: Our main experience is in laser space propulsion systems and concepts. Examples are the high-thrust and high-exhaust velocity versions of the laser plasma thruster (LPT) which have application to satellite propulsion. The LPT generates 10 millinewtons thrust at 3 millinewton/optical watt and 250 seconds specific impulse (Isp) in the millisecond-pulse model. The nanosecond model has produced 3ks Isp in tests. We have designed liquid fuel versions of this unit to generate 1 N thrust and 10ks Isp. We have expertise in linear and nonlinear optics, magneto-optics and space system design, and do in-depth technical consulting on laser applications.

Products: Three of our commercial products, ranging from the LPT to hybrid battery chargers, can be viewed here.

International symposia: Since 1998, we have initiated and organized ten international symposia on High Power Laser Ablation in Osaka, Santa Fe and Taos.

HPLA/DE 2016 was held at Hotel La Fonda in Santa Fe, New Mexico April 4-7, 2016. This year, we combined forces with the Directed Energy Professional Society (DEPS). The BEP meeting track featured microwave as well as laser sources for propulsion in space, and other phenomena beside ablation.

This meeting was the very best in our 18 year history since 1998, with 150 attendees from 20 countries! We had 18 sessions with topics ranging from our usual talks on forefront physics to DPALS and XPALS to MAPLE, laser ablation propulsion and metamaterials. We were especially honored to have 5 keynote speakers - Gérard Mourou [inventor of chirped pulse amplification], Aaron Lindenberg [Stanford], Fabio di Teodoro [Raytheon], Boris Zhdanov [Air Force Academy] and Mark Neice [DEPS chair]. Our magnificent conference dinner at the Governor's Residence was catered by Hotel La Fonda.


Dr. Phipps' Recent Published Work:


• "L'ADROIT - A spaceborne ultraviolet laser system for space debris clearing"


·      The Laser Plasma Thruster (LPT), U.S. Patent 6,530,212 granted March 11, 2003

·      A new rotational motion sensor, U.S. Patent 7,460,243 granted December 2, 2008

Our clients have included:

·           AEgis Technologies Group, Huntsville, AL

·         AFRL Edwards AFB

·           Alliant Tech Systems, Newington, VA

·           Anteon Corporation, Dayton, OH

·           Bekey Designs, Inc.

·           Data Technology, Inc., Woburn, MA

·           Innovation Photonics, Verona, NJ

·           Intellectual Ventures, Bellevue, WA

•    Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

·           NASA Headquarters, Washington, DC

·           NASA Marshall Spaceflight Center, Huntsville, AL

·           Northeast Science and Technology, Williamsburg, VA

·           Red Cone Research, Conifer, CO

·           Sirius Associates, Huntsville, AL

·           US Air Force Office of Scientific Research

·           US Department of Defense

·           US Missile Defense Agency

PA analytical and numerical models:

·               A widely-used analytical model for predicting pressure generation on opaque surfaces in vacuum, caused by  laser pulse duration from 100ps to 1ms, across the spectrum from excimer to carbon dioxide laser wavelengths.

·               Codes which calculate 1-D pressure and impulse, with a smooth transition between the vapor regime (from impulse threshold to plasma threshold) and plasma-dominated regimes

·           A code which simulates ground-to-orbit flight of a cone-shaped ablation-driven vehicle through a real atmosphere with appropriate velocity- and density-dependent drag coefficients

PA inventions include the laser plasma thruster "LPT" and the laser space debris clearing concept. NASA conducted a validation study that concluded LODR (then called ORION) should be pursued.

Dr. Phipps' personal opinions page is here.

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