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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: http://192.197.62.35/people/mcsele/lasers/Mechanism.htm (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>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>
<p>Here is how to make a weak dye laser with a beam of 405 nm.</p><p>http://laserkids.sourceforge.net/eng_dye_laser.html</p>
<p>Here is an improved dye laser using 60 to 75+ mw 404 nm laser as a pump. Notice that a Prism (Glass double) is added to get two wavelengths one at 404 nm and one at 520 nm.</p><p>Safety is important since two wavelengths are formed. Glasses that can block both are essential for safety.</p>
<p>Here is another video on using Nitrogen laser to produce a blue laser from detergent.</p><p>https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a6-YnM_5i-U</p>
<p>Here is a wikipedia link to flash lamps some can create wavelengths near 400 nm.</p><p><a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flashtube#/media/File:Rare_gas_flashtube_spectral_outputs.JPG">https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flashtube#/media/Fil...</a></p>
<p>Video on a dye laser from a Nitrogen laser.</p><p>https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KeiZ7Y8x_nY</p>
<p>Another method for a dye laser could be a type of UV flash lamp. It would more expensive and require higher voltage than a Nitrogen laser. You would require tubes that emit near 400 nm. I don't know if they exist? Their efficency is questionable compared to a high powered laser.</p>
<p>Diagram below explaining everything. Purple beam is laser pump. A Nitrogen laser if it opperated near 100 mw could work but you would need quarts grattings to get the UV to pass through and you could use plastic. Plastic with UV at 337.1 nm may damage the optics and you will have an issue with the glass flask (UV not absorbing through).</p>
<p>Here is a diagram of a semiconductor 405 mw 60 mw laser dye laser with yellow marker dye. A 90% ethanol with 10% dye (concentrated is added).</p><p>25 ml of ethanol and 5 ml concentrated dye = 10% efficient. </p>
<p>Cool Have you ever thought of making a Dye laser? Firing a laser at 337.1 nm may be a problem with glass so I am going to use a 200 mw semiconductor 405 nm from Armlaser to create 20 mw of green output laser beam.</p>
<p>I have built a 0.5 to 1 W optical Nitrogen laser at School but we got it to work temporary but since their was a strike on I did have a lot of time to operate it. It used 9 kV and 60 mA current. It was really dangerous due to the high voltage DC.</p>
<p>could I use a mot? (microwave oven transformer) at 2000 volts rectified. </p>
<p>Where can you safely buy a transformer without getting in trouble with the government.?</p><p>This is because I tried building a flat capacitor Nitrogen laser. Everything would have worked but I couldn't get hold of the ac power supply and the high voltage diode.</p>
Rather than feeding an industry (garages / tire filler dudes) that preys upon people that don't understand that 80% N2 is still relatively cheap and attainable. N2 inflation originated out of the aircraft industry where a small tire is filled to very high pressures that makes the ignition point of the tire unacceptably low. Why you would want this in your car tire is beyond me. <br> <br>To refine your air, you can put a candle in a pile of damp sodium hydroxide (soap making supplies or draino) light the candle and cover it with a vase or bell jar. The candle will consume about 3/4 of the O2 and the lye will react with the resulting CO2. You should be able to get about 95% N2 this way. A glowing ember or burning material heated with an electric filiment take this closer to 100% but you should wait for the lye to do it's work first or you may convert some of the CO2 to CO that can not be absorbed by the lye. The best would be to use an old flash cube (magnesium wool) as a &quot;getter&quot; as it does not generate carbon monoxide (CO) when starved for air. <br> <br>Also, since 15~20% of the air is removed (well converted to a pile of washing soda) you will need to either accept some air leaking in or come up with some sort of pneumatic trough with silicone oil or water. <br> <br>Utilizing yeast &amp; a sugar solution will take this further but continue to generate CO2. <br> <br>Also, pure CO2 is easily purchased or made: paint ball guns, beer kegs, baking soda &amp; acid, yeast &amp; sugar, emergency bike tire inflaters, etc. CO2 also has the nice properity of being 50% heavier than air so it will &quot;hang&quot; around even if you don't have a perfect seal. You are on your own for adapting this for CO2. I am only assuming you can make a TEA with CO2. <br>
Nice instructable.<br><br>The person you mention in &quot;What is a TEA laser?&quot; (or rather the website) is a professor at my college (Niagara College Canada) and I've seen some of the lasers he shows on the webpage, they are pretty cool. He also gives demonstrations with liquid nitrogen on special occasions at the college.
can this by any chance burn things?<br>
Probably not. It's kind of weak, especially since air is only 70 something percent nitrogen. However, you could probably stick stuff in the spark gap...
I have a 12kV neon sign transformer. Could I use that, or is that too high of a voltage? I wouldn't have to worry about x-rays, would I?
I don't think you'd have to worry about x-rays, although 12kV is a bit too high. However, this project needs DC and NSTs output AC. If you half-wave rectify your neon sign transformer with a microwave diode, it should then give you around 6 kV DC and you'll be all set.
If you have a friend that works in a car dealership or garage, you could probably get your hands and some pure nitrogen =)
Hmm, that could be really useful for improving the output of this puny thing. Thanks for the advice! I'm guessing they use it for welding or something?
No, they use it to inflate car tires now, so it'll be easy to get, but if you get it from a car dealership it will be expensive
Cool! I'll see if I can find a garage to go to.
This instructable was very well thought out and written in an excellent manor. Congratulations! Can't wait to see what you build next.
Thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed it.

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