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Q & A: homemade lasers?

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Most recent answer: 01/07/2013
Q:
Is it possible to make a simple colour laser. I am going to be teaching a unit about colour. I am an art teacher and hopefully there is some way of putting a simple structure together as an extension for my gifted students
- Sheryl Forrester (age 55)
Melbourne,Victoria,Australia
A:
To the best of my knowledge, there's no practical way for your class to make a homemade laser. Most of the "homemade lasers" described on the Web are actually just lasers pulled from devices such as DVD recorders.

Still, there are all sorts of cool related projects you can do. You can easily get cheap plastic diffraction grating sheets which allow students to see light separated out into its different frequencies. (We use such sheets in some of our large lectures.)  The students can look at, for example, incandescent bulbs and fluorescent bulbs to see how similar-looking white light can be made of quite different color components. You could also get a collection of colored LED lights. These are not white LEDs with colored glass covers, but LEDs which emit a narrow band of frequencies, similar for your purposes to a laser. Red, blue, green, and yellow are available. The students can try combining light of different frequencies.

There are many more experiments possible, this is just a tiny start.

Mike W.

(published on 01/07/2013)

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