Lasers are versatile, incredibly useful, and prevalent in much of the technology we use today. They can carry information over long distances, burn stuff, analyze chemicals, impress people, and do a host of other awesome things. Why not build your own?
I've wanted to build a TEA laser for a while now, and I've finally gotten the parts and the time. Here is the building process along with everything else useful I've found for building your own laser.

First, the necessary disclaimer:

I am not responsible for you, or anything you do. If you hurt yourself I may offer you condolences, but please don't try to sue me for anything.

If you follow the safety advice given and use common sense, you should be fine.

Also, I am obviously not the first person to come up with this idea. The sources I've used the most are:

Nyle Steiner's pages (http://www.sparkbangbuzz.com/tealaser/tealaser7.htm)
The Joss Research Institute (http://www.jossresearch.org/lasers/),
Sam's Laser FAQ (http://www.repairfaq.org/sam/lasercn2.htm),
The Professor's Homebuilt Lasers website (http://www.repairfaq.org/sam/lasercn2.htm), and
Wikipedia (www.wikipedia.org)

Before following this instrucable, it would probably be a good idea to look at some of these excellent resources.

Step 1: Before you start...

Before you start, there are some questions you might have.

What is a TEA laser?

In short, TEA stands for Transversely Exited Atmospheric pressure laser. While a true nitrogen TEA laser uses a nearly pure nitrogen environment at atmospheric pressure as a lasing medium, the laser I built uses plain old air which has enough nitrogen in it to lase. A TEA laser works by using high-voltage coronal discharge to excite nitrogen in the channel between the electrodes to the point at which it lases. For more details, a good explanation can be found here: (The Professor's Homebuilt Lasers Site).

Why build a TEA laser?

Other than the self-satisfaction of having built a laser, there are a handful of ways to motivate yourself. For one, building this laser can acquaint you with skills that are useful in other parts of life. Doing projects like this one forces you to think in a creative way and learn to solve different problems. Even learning to work safely with high voltage electricity can be a stepping stone to other more interesting projects.
This particular type of laser can be built with stuff you have lying around at home, and it doesn't require special tools or skills to build. The only part that was tricky to get was the power supply, which I'll cover in a subsequent step.

These are all the questions that my tired brain could come up with. Feel free to submit your own and I will try my best to answer them.


<p>If you want even more efficiency you can rap aluminum foil around the beaker and allow two small slots (holes) for the laser to enter and the beam (dye) to exit. This will act as a lasing cavity mirror.</p>
<p>Effeciency of the 337.1 nm is around 80%.</p>
<p>If you are going to make a dye laser out of boro sillicate beaker 50 ml 1.2 mm thickness the efficency is only 80%. So aluminum foil and a mirror between the beaker will enhance the output by a lot.</p>
<p>Here is a diagram on how to use flat mirrors to reflect more UV into a cavity. The akuminum mirrors may enhance the output by a bit.</p>
<p>Here is some info about <strong>DYE LASERS</strong> if anyone is interested in doing that. </p><p>http://laserkids.sourceforge.net/eng_dye_laser.html</p>
<p>Flat mirrors a few cm from a ionzing effect length electrode 4-5 cm length on both sides.</p>
<p>Yeah just have flat mirrors glued to wood or something like that a few cm away from the electric plate that produces the laser. This in terms will reflect most of the beam towards the directed path.</p>
<p>Silver oxide mirrors close to the discharge of aluminum plate may WORK. Although I am not sure about it.</p>
<p>Your best bet is ALUMINUM foil or something like that which reflects 90% of UV.</p>
<p>I may be wrong with the SILVER it only will work in an OXYGEN free environment otherwise it will turn black.</p>
<p>I forgot to mention anyone who wants to use this Silver method should <strong>WEAR</strong> gloves <strong>SINCE</strong> silver nitrate can perm stain your hands and it is sort of corrosive to skin.</p>
<p>Here is a link for different metals (although aluminum isn't on it) for copper, silver, gold and tin at wavelengths 400 nm to 1000 nm. I know 337.1 nm is not on there but silver mirrors are used to reflect this type of laser beam at school. </p><p>https://www.google.ca/search?q=copper+reflective+to+light&amp;hl=en&amp;biw=1280&amp;bih=617&amp;tbm=isch&amp;imgil=L3CRCESemxZg8M%253A%253BZSjNKpakPIADJM%253Bhttps%25253A%25252F%25252Fwww.siggraph.org%25252Feducation%25252Fmaterials%25252FHyperGraph%25252Fillumin%25252Freflect1.htm&amp;source=iu&amp;pf=m&amp;fir=L3CRCESemxZg8M%253A%252CZSjNKpakPIADJM%252C_&amp;usg=__ywhY-SavMnQhK87rg9N4XAXNEa0%3D&amp;ved=0ahUKEwjdjuTl1avPAhUB5oMKHcR9CVIQyjcIKw&amp;ei=gF3oV93OGoHMjwTE-6WQBQ#imgrc=kOdrS_wvZTBjsM%3A</p>
<p>On one of the websites (SAM) they mention using two charging coils at 10,000 volts. One charging coil is placed between the top of the two capacitors while the other is between the bottom plates. I don't know if this would be more efficient but it might be.</p>
<p>which type of electrode I can use instead of angle aluminium?</p>
<p>If e-bay doesnot sell it and you live in Ontario or Quebec try Prolab Scientific. I got a 100 ml 0.1 mole silver nitrate for 25 dollars minus shipping and tax.</p>
<p>Silver metal work a little bit better but it is costly. You can place copper pipes in a solution of silver nitrate. I did this before and you can order it easly online in solution. The copper is more reactive and will coat silver on the metal. This could work.</p>
<p>I have been thinking that a 50 K ohm resistor would aborb more than 10 ma so a 1 k ohm resistor will replace it at 1 W.</p>
<p>Finally got a HAM type HV diode that lower current by 5 ma to reduce the current from 15 ma to 10 ma.</p>
<p>The 3 W 50 K resistor prevents overheating between the two 5 nf capacitors.</p>
<p>Here is a link below explaining that any resistor from 1 K ohm to 1 M ohm will work. I will try the resistor at 50 K ohm resistance for 3 W. </p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="281" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/v9sKqGC3t-0" width="500"></iframe></p>
<p>Here is a failed attempt with regular didoes, etc. The voltage even at 8 kV was too slow to control the output. Thus I had to buy the 12 kV 30 ma transformer. As stated below I still require the microwave transformer diode.</p>
<p>Here is an improved design for the power supply that converts 12 kV into half and halves the current as well. </p><p>The microwave transformer must be placed first to the 12 kV transformer so that it will not cause the bread board to burn. 12 KV is too high but 6 kV 10-15 ma is alright.</p>
<p>To improve the output and reduce the current. The voltage at 6 kV 15 ma must flow through several diodes that reduces the Current by 5 ma. If the current is too high BANG there goes one of your capacitors.</p>
<p>Here is a method of converting 12 kV into approx 6 kV DC. Three high voltage diodes (*2) are used to produce single flow DC 6 kV 10-15 mA.</p>
<p>Here the first prototype. I just need a AC power supply and microwave oven (half rectifier) to convert it into 6000 V 15 ma.</p>
<p>I made a Nitrogen laser with a high powered 25 Kilo hertzs 8000 volt 20 ma supply. Even with high voltage diodes that can tolerate 100 ma and 12,000 v it did not fire at all even when the spark gap was 0.1 mm apart. </p><p>What needed is a 3 watt resistor for 12000 volts 50 Kohm and a microwave oven that converts 12,000 volts 35 ma into 6000 volts 30 ma. The thickness of the capacitors must be doubled due to the current. Power = VI. The capacitor voltage is low (6 kV) but the current is quite high 30 ma min.</p>
<p>The switching doides are ultra fast switiching diodes.</p>
<p>Apparently as long as a load is available with a full wave rectifier the voltage of AC converting into DC. For a DC power-supply the DC power must be as smooth as possible. You need if you are going to use 25 kHz range power supply a high voltage switching diodes too.</p><p>Then you must convert it from near 12,000 Volts 20 ma into 6000 V and 5-10 ma.</p><p>A microwave oven diode that can handle for my case AC 8 kV (something that is near 12 kV max DC).</p><p>VDC = 1.414*8000 </p><p>V DC = 11,312 volts.</p><p>divide by 2 = 5656 V to 6000 V.</p><p><a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rectifier">https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rectifier</a></p>
<p>Although I have limited practice with high voltage please do this carefully and always wear gloves, have one hand in your pocket and be reminded if you mess up with a fly back or other transformer it could be dangerous or even fatal. Do this at your own risk and always research (Intensive) before attempting.</p>
<p>If a fly back transformer is suppose to be used for a long time it needs to be soaked in oil. A 24 volt power-supply with (AC) with diodes may be used to power the fly back. Note not all but most fly-back work this way into DC.</p><p>Here is the link.</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="281" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/wNmZ1xxh1G8" width="500"></iframe></p><p>Daniel.</p>
<p>Here an instructable on making a fly back transformer work.</p><p><a href="http://www.instructables.com/id/MAKE-A-HIGH-VOLTAGE-SUPPLY-IN-5-MINUTES/step3/The-Finished-Setup/">http://www.instructables.com/id/MAKE-A-HIGH-VOLTAG...</a></p>
<p>Be aware that if the suction cup part is connected to two wires that short circuit while touching the other wire over a long period of time the fly back transformer may overheat and fry its self.</p>
<p>A glass copper plate capacitor (it has to be pretty big) for 10 kV, 5 ma current but it would not rip or breakdown when overexposed to electricity compared to aluminum foil. It is not a bad price on e-bay either. Still wondering if copper would be better at 99.999% purity?? </p><p>This may work.</p>
<p>SAM said that a flyback at 10,000 volts 5 ma should work for a powersupply if it is DC.</p>
<p>I will properly go with the flyback transformer method which is already DC but I may have issue with thin wires and conductivity. </p>
<p>Another problem with the 25 KHz power-supply is that it is too quick a pulse to efficiently enter the high voltage diodes. Special expensive diodes are required. </p>
<p>However I think using a diode for a microwave transformer MAY be better as a powersupply.</p>
<p>Here is some info about trying to build a glass capacitor flat device for a Nitrogen laser using regular air at 78% Nitrogen. The person called Mark said that at 8kV-12 kV at 35 mA when doubled with a diode (HV type) would generate 12 kV to 20 kV or even higher would easily break down the glass.</p><p><a href="http://technology.niagarac.on.ca/people/mcsele/lasers/LasersTEA.htm">http://technology.niagarac.on.ca/people/mcsele/las...</a></p><p>SAM site on Nitrogen laser when I asked through e-mail said a diode DC (12 kV, 100 ma would be Ok. However a microwave diode may be need or a variable voltage device that can adjust to 0-120 volts may work. (Maybe both).</p><p>I bought through e-bay a rare but still working 8 kV, 20 mA transformer and would generate 12 kV. It must be reduced to half. </p>
<p>Hello Kyerohtaron. </p><p>I am wondering if a flyback transformer at 10000 volts 5 mA would be sufficient from a tv to power a Nitrogen laser? Can you please get back to me by my e-mail address. Would this work with thin polyethylene sheets?</p><p>Thank you Daniel.</p>
<p>Just accidently burned it out.</p>
<p>Old tv from 2000 which the tube has stopped working. The wire going to the transformer and the HV created a plasma spark about 3-4 mm. I don't know if it is sufficient to power a laser???</p>
<p>Here is an improved design that I may use a cd as a mirror like device to double the output power.</p>
<p>Mirrors should be added or CD reflective side to amplify the laser output by 1.5-2 times.</p>
<p>oops low current.</p>
<p>Aluminum conducts electricity 65% so 10,000 volts means the glass only gets 6500 volts. In order for this to work the capacitors must be well built and the spark gap must be appropriate range 3-4 mm especially due to the low voltage. The output could be reduced pressure. (Vacuum). (I think) I seen it on a Nitrogen laser website for flat ones. </p>
<p>Here is an improved design with 0.2 mm thick glass plates as capacitors. The spark gap is keep in glass bottle to reduce noise and UV output from the spark gap.</p><p>See picture. The bricks are carefully placed to touch the glass to the aluminum.</p><p>If you want to skip the 30 mA high voltage problem that allows ozone at this current and EMP to be produced reduce the current to 5 ma.</p><p>The power supply is a fly back TV dc supply which with a driver generates 10 kV, 5 ma. Unlike some intermittent power supplies this one is expensive found on e-bay. </p>
<p>Dye lasers requires a Nitrogen laser, exicmer laser, flash lamps, etc. That is why I will try to build a Nitrogen laser for making dye lasers.</p>
<p>A nitrogen laser at 10,000 volts 5 mA through 0.2 mm thick glass can lase good. Here is my prototype without the transformer, HV diodes, etc. The induction coil may be need to replaced with a thicker wire.</p>
<p>The link also explains that beams at 405 nm especially at higher powers like 75 to 80 mw of beam power can light up surfaces better (a little bit better than) some home built Nitrogen lasers.</p>
<p>This link explains that if the concentration of the dye is too high the laser beam at 404-405 nm will only penitrate a little bit.</p>

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