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ReInventors

Fighting Mosquitoes With Frickin’ Laser Beams

Researchers have developed a way to identify, track, and zap the bugs in a split second.

August 16, 2018

Whether at a barbecue, bonfire, or backcountry camp, you can count on pesky mosquitoes to make their presence known through bothersome buzzes and itchy bites. But they’re worse than annoying: Nearly half a million people a year worldwide die from malaria carried by the critters.

Scientists at Intellectual Ventures Laboratory in Bellevue, Wash., are battling these deadly carriers with the coolest technology possible: lasers.

Using an invisible barrier called the Photonic Fence, researchers have developed a way to identify, track and zap the bugs in a split second.

The invention can also be used to protect crops without pesticides. Best of all, pollinators, people and even flying toddlers stay out of the lasers’ crosshairs — provided you don’t flap your wings at the speed of a mosquito’s.

ReInventors is hosted by Katie Herzog. Each episode features scientists, inventors and tinkerers who are reimagining the basic elements of our everyday lives.

Top image: Katie Herzog, host of ReInventors looks at mosquitoes at Intellectual Ventures in Bellevue, Wash. Scientists at Intellectual Ventures Laboratory are battling these deadly carriers of malaria using an invisible barrier made of lasers called the Photonic Fence. (Photo by Sarah Hoffman/Crosscut)



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Sarah Hoffman

Sarah Hoffman is a science and environment producer for Crosscut and KCTS 9.

More stories by Sarah Hoffman

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