Introduction: Laser Pointer Amplifier

Picture of Laser Pointer Amplifier

        Everybody would like a laser pointer that can burn through stuff. The problem is that lasers like this are very expensive. My prototype may or may not be able to achieve that but if you invested enough money into it, achieving brag-worthy lasers is definitely possible. 
        My laser amplifier prototype design can make lasers brighter and stronger and is certainly a fun project to build. Nobody can deny that amplifying a laser is amazingly cool. Plus with this type of project you can always invest more money and time in it to tweak out the glitches to make it better and better. Laser projects are very facinating and tend to spark new and better laser project ideas.
        WARNING: I am not responsible for any damage caused by this device. Lasers can damage the eyes and possibly cause permanent blindness so always keeep laser away from face and wear proper eye protection.



Step 1: Gathering the Parts

Picture of Gathering the Parts

       You will need several parts and tools for this project.
PARTS: plywood, nails or screws, mirrors, metal or wood dowels, laser pointer, lasing medium(look it up online if you don't know what  I'm talking about, crystal or glass mediums work best), a couple rubber bands, 4 brad nails, and a short string of white Christmas lights.
 TOOLS: glass cutter, hot glue gun, drill, pliers, masking tape or stapler, pencil, saw, wood glue, and a ruler.

Step 2: Planning and Preparing

Picture of Planning and Preparing

     Cut a 6" by 1'6" piece of plywood and draw out a setup of the mirrors on the wood like shown above. Make sure there is at least 1.5" on either side of your drawing. Make holes big enough for your dowels to fit into where you marked out spots for the mirrors. Cut out 1" by 1" mirrors from your mirror using a glass cutter. Cut your dowels into 2" pieces. Use hot glue to attach a dowel to the center of each mirror, put each of these into the already drilled holes in your plywood.

Step 3: Mounting the Laser

Picture of Mounting the Laser

     In this device it is crucial to make sure the laser stays pointing in the same direction all the time. This requires an effective mount for the laser. To make this mount cut 2 small plywood blocks. The height should be able to hold the laser high enough up to the laser. The width should be about 1" wider than your laser. I can't really give exact measurements because of the size of your laser. Take these 2 blocks and cut a V shaped notch into the side that will support the laser. Put in 2 brad nails on either side of the V. You can secure the laser in the mount using rubber bands stretched across the brad nails. Put the laser in the mount and adjust it so it is facing straight towards the mirror setup. Secure the mount in place on the board using hot glue.

Step 4: Adding the Lights

Picture of Adding the Lights

      You were probably wondering what the Christmas lights were for. These are very important to the function of this device. The lights spread light throughout the inside of the device. This causes the mirrors to reflect some of this light with the laser to amplify it. Also if you are using a lasing medium the medium will trap some light and add it to the laser when it passes through.
      First you need to make the rest of the box. Cut 2 pieces of 3" by 12" plywood and 1 piece of 6" by 12" plywood. You may need to change the dimensions depending upon the circumstances. Just make sure there is at least 1.5" between the mirrors and the top piece of plywood. Put together these pieces with wood glue and screws or nails. Make sure the larger piece is resting on the 2 smaller pieces.
      Now line the inside with Christmas lights as shown. Secure the wires with masking tape or staples. Secure each bulb to the wood using some hot glue.

Step 5: Attach the Lasing Medium

Picture of Attach the Lasing Medium

       Undoubtedly the most important component is your lasing medium. If you are using a pyramid beveled piece of glass like me, you need to mount it at the end. Hot glue a dowel to the side of the glass. Position the glass at the optimal position, mark the spot where the dowel hits, and drill a new hole. Put the new dowel into the new hole and you have attached the pyramid bevel glass piece.
       It is much different with installing real lasing medium. Cut small enough pieces of lasing medium to fit in between the path of 2 mirrors. Again, glue a dowel to the side of each piece, mark where the dowel lands, and drill new holes for each one. Place them in there new holes and you are almost done with this project. 

Step 6: Finishing Touches

Picture of Finishing Touches

    All that's really left is some odds and ends. Secure all your dowels with hot glue after adjusting their position. Use some rubber bands to secure the top piece with the Christmas lights you made before. Finally, turn on the Christmas lights and the laser. Now admire the work you've completed!


LaserDave (author)2012-01-08

Nice effort with your project. My only comment would be that the title should be changed so that people won't go through the time and expense building such a device when it has absolutely no chance of doing what is claimed.

I understand that you wanted to put this together to compete in a contest and that you were pressed for time, but that doesn't make it work nor does it make it fair for people expecting it to. Perhaps a more accurate title might be "Laser Pointer Amplifier Simulation Concept", since the output power will most certainly be less than you put in.

It's good to see you are interested in lasers and I encourage learning all you can about them. Maybe a good demo might be to dissect a small green laser, mount all of the components on a board and get that to lase. I think you'd be surprised at how precise the alignment must be for it to work, but it might well be worth the exercise. Use a camera/monitor arrangement to see the invisible IR energy to do your alignment, and don't forget to use goggles.

spikec (author)2011-05-15

Dude I commend you for your efforts and that's a cool looking box you got there, but you cannot just "add" energy from the christmas lights to the laser beam. Tiny incandescent bulbs are a far cry from the flash lamp setup at the National Ignition facility...

Here's a primer on coherence that explains the science behind it:

You can build a cheap laser burner out a dvd or cd burner diode, which can be setup to output far more wattage than your typical off the shelf laser pointer. There are plenty of stuff out there on how to do it both here and on LPF...

Also, here's an instructable that will help you make some suitable mirrors for your laser work:

To spikec thank you for the complement. I was really shooting more towards just the concept and assuming that anyone on this website could figure out a way to make this better.
To hivoltage i would like to see you come up with all these lab grade materials in a day or two. Even if you worked at a lab you would still have to order the parts. And by the way, even though christmas lights don't produce as much light as flash lamps they still produce enough light to excite some of the atoms in lasing medium like Yttrium Aluminum Garnet crystals, Neodymium ion-doped glass,etc. I wasn't looking to shoot a plane out of the stratoshere, just looking to put the concept out there and you can't say my concept isn't absolutely right. I mean just read my May 2, 2011 comment and read the June 2011 issue of Popular Mechanics and it literally shows my basic concept on paper.

Solion (author)2011-04-25

I am afraid that the physical properties of light do not work like this. while you can collimate a laser into a smaller spot for high concentration of energy over the area of that spot, adding reflectors in a lit box will not amplify anything . in fact you will loose some energy in each bounce because of refraction. your mirrors are not first surface types.

Now had you taken a green laser .......

My materials weren't exactly top notch and I really needed some sort of lasing medium for it to work properly. I was short of these materials only for time reasons. These lights were meant for the proper function of the lasing medium but using just the mirrors has some light bounce into where the laser beam is. So this means you can definitelyspend more time and money on it to get better lasing medium, mirrors, lasers, and lights( lab-grade lasers use flashtubes to add light to the lasing medium)

building a flash lamp lasing cavity to pump a solid state laser and bouncing a laser pointer through a box full of Christmas lights are entirely different things. any light from the bulbs inside the box will not be coherent and will not able to amplify the laser since it is not in phase. lasing mediums work by creating a population inversion and allowing light already resonating in the cavity to trigger the release of further energy by the excited atoms, allowing all the added light to be in phase. plain glass is not a workable lasing medium because it doesn't have the right properties to allow a population inversion to occur, and light bulbs are nowhere near powerful enough to pump any kind of lasing medium.

I actually just read an article about plans for nuclear fusion in the June 2011 issue of Popular Mechanics magazine. In order for fusion to occur a tremendous amount of energy must be focused on a capsule of hydrogen fuel to achieve basically creating a miniature sun. Powerful lasers are used to do this but must be amplified to achieve the needed power. The lasers pass through amplifiers that are made of lasing medium like phosphate glass which is doped with neodymium surrounded by powerful flashlamps. The light from the flashlamps excites the neodymium atoms and passes on that energy to the laser beam passing through the amplifier. A bunch of amplifiers are set up and a mirror system is used for directing the beam through the amplifiers. This basic setup is to be used to amplify the lasers to a quadrillion times its original power to attempt nuclear fusion.

makincoolstuff (author)2011-04-19

i think a couple neon lights or noble gas lights would make it really powerful

Lasing medium is used in the making of lasers and the basic principle of the lasing medium is that when it is exposed to bright light it absorbs some of this light and adds it to the laser as it passes through. Therefor the brighter the light around the lasing medium the better the function. I found some info on a powerful lab-grade laser and they built the lasing medium with flashtubes around it, but neon or noble gas light would probably work better than the Christmas lights I used.

russ_hensel (author)2011-04-19

Have you measured the power gain? Or estimated it?

As I have said I was a little short on time only because I found out about the wicked lasers contest only a week before it ended.