The principle of any gyroscope is a spinning wheel or beam of light that can detect how far an object is from where it is supposed to be. A laser ring gyroscope is an amazing component that has virtually no moving parts and is based on the Sagnac Effect. 

French scientist Georges Sagnac first demonstrated the effect in 1912 when he noticed that a split beam of light could travel both counterclockwise and clockwise around a moving platform. Gyroscopes based on the Sagnac effect came in the 1960s, as the concept needed both lasers and fiber optics to work. 

IRD Glass has been a sole-source supplier to the largest gyroscope manufacturer in the world, Honeywell, for over 30 years. Laser ring gyroscopes are an integral part of nearly every aircraft in the sky. 

While we don’t build the complete ring laser gyros, we have the capabilities to make the precision ceramic-glass bodies, drill the precision holes, and provide the super-polished laser mirrors. 

How Does a Laser Ring Gyroscope (LRG) Work?

Laser ring gyroscopes perform based on the Sagnac Effect. The gyro wheel itself, which is on an aircraft’s turn indicator can handle an airstream of up to 10,000 revolutions per minute. First, laser beams are split and then travel on opposite paths through three perpendicular hollow rings attached to a vehicle. The term “rings” is just a blanket term—these “rings” are often rectangles, squares, and triangles filled with inert gases. The laser beams reflect through the gases with the use of mirrors. 

Next, the vehicle turns using a pitching motion, which creates interference patterns made in the corresponding gyroscope rings. Photoelectric cells measure the interference patterns. 

The interference patterns of the three rings are next numerically integrated, which determines the turning rate of aircraft in three dimensions.

What Are the Benefits of Laser Ring Gyroscopes?

A laser ring gyroscope is one component of an inertial reference system, typically in aircraft. When compared to mechanical gyroscopes, there are several benefits of using laser gyroscopes in an inertial navigation system setting:

  • There are no moving parts, except for the laser-lock and dither motor assembly.
  • There is no friction when using an LRG.
  • Drift is eliminated because of the lack of friction.
  • The unit is lightweight, compact, and durable.
  • An LRG goes not resist changes in its orientation.

What Are Modern-Day Laser Ring Gyroscope Applications?

In modern times, laser ring gyroscopes are used in domestic and commercial aircraft, satellites, and missiles. There is also a hybrid LRG that also features an embedded GPS capability. Like a typical laser ring gyroscope, these hybrid gyroscopes are designed to promote the accuracy of inertial navigation systems (NS). These LRGs are often used on ships, spacecraft, military aircraft, and ships; however, typical laser ring gyroscopes are much more commonly used.

To learn more about laser ring gyroscopes, their specific applications, and our current capabilities, please contact IRD Glass here for contact information and directions.