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/BEP 2014 was held at Hotel La Fonda in Santa Fe, New Mexico April 21-25, 2014. We combined forces with the International Symposium on Beamed Energy Propulsion (ISBEP). The new BEP meeting track featured microwave as well as laser sources for propulsion in space, and other phenomena beside ablation.

The HPLA track of the symposium, as always, dealt with basic laser-surface interaction physics, advances in chemical lasers, electric discharge and optically-pumped gas lasers, novel applications in physics and electronics, polymers for ablation, short-pulse laser-matter interactions, materials modification and procesing with ultrashort pulses and three-dimensional microstructuring.

HPLA/BEP is truly international. 15 countries were represented, and over half of our attendees are from institutions outside the U.S. About 150 papers will be presented. Our keynote speakers were Prof. Eric Mazur [Harvard University], Prof. Johannes Pedarnig [Johannes Kepler University (Austria)], Dr. Bruno Esmiller [Astrium Space Transportation (France)] and Prof. David Neelly, STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (UK).


Recent Published Work:


Laser Orbital Debris Removal Update: Laser space debris removal - using an ultraviolet wavelength space based laser station, with estimated costs per kg removed! Also see LODRshort.

Laser Propulsion Review: Entitled "Review: Laser-Ablation Propulsion," this is a review of this exciting field from its inception in 1972 to the latest laser-electric hybrid acceleration schemes and laser engines that have created 2N thrust. Thirty-three pages, with eleven coauthors, it includes relevant theory 52 figures and 172 references.


Laser Plasma Thruster created as a prototype with Phase II SBIR prime contract funding. We welcome further investment to turn this into a commercial product.


·      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

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 "LODR" 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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