Hand Cranked TEA Laser

I (Simon) have wanted to build a TEA laser ever since I heard about them years ago, so when I got a carboard build-your-own Wimshurst kit it came right to the top of my project list.

A very high voltage is applied instantaneously across two long electrodes. The nitrogen in the air gets excited, and a population inversion occurs fit for lasing. The discharge lasts around 1 nanosecond, and in that time a joule of electrical energy is discharged, giving about a millijoule of light output. While this isn’t very much, it does mean the laser outputs light at around 1 megawatt! The output is UV, so is only made visible by flourescence. We used tin foil and plastic sheeting for capacitors, a spark gap to quickly energise the electrodes, for which a couple of rulers were used. We fired the laser at a postit with some highlighter pen on:

1ns pulse is so short the rolling shutter only sees one line at full brightness.

1ns pulse is so short the rolling shutter only sees one line at full brightness, where the glare is very wide!.

I built it in collaboration with Andy (paramita-electronics.com / secretingredientgames.com), and he took this video:

Now for some great photos Mark took of the Wimshurst once I’d built the kit:

Spark discharge

Spark discharge

Corona discharge

Corona discharge



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