Infrared laser barriers could repel mosquitoes invisibly

We've already seen laser systems that can target and shoot down mosquitoes, and we'll be honest: it's hard to beat an anti-bug battle laser. A new technique based on lasers and infrared light might be a slightly more realistic way of keeping mosquitoes at bay without having to zap each and every one.

In Africa, 20% of childhood deaths are caused by malaria. It's a very serious problem, which is why everyone from the U.N. to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are funding research into ways of cheaply and effectively keeping people (children, especially) from getting bitten.

Most anti-mosquito tech depends on physical barriers like nets, which are prone to damage, or sprays that target a mosquito's sense of smell, can be are less effective and don't last as long. Szabolcs Márka, an associate professor at Columbia University, has figured out that you don't need olfactory trickery or even physical barriers to repel mosquitoes, since as it turns out, the little buggers are scared to death of infrared light.

All it takes to keep mosquitoes (and other bugs) away is a virtual curtain of infrared laser light. This "light shield" can be placed across windows, doors, or even projected onto the floor to create a safe place to sleep. You can't see it and you can walk right through it without noticing, but as you can see in the video below, bugs simply will not cross the beams.

A field prototype of this anti-mosquito system is probably a few years away, since lots of research is still necessary to figure out what intensities and wavelengths work best. But pretty soon, we might be able to get rid of all of those sprays and stuff for good, and just set out a couple infrared laser emitters to keep everyone bite (and malaria) free.

Columbia Tech Ventures, via Forbes

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