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Old 10-22-2010, 11:10 AM #1
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Default Solar Pumped Laser

Hi everyone,
I'm just in the process of starting an open source project on creating a sun-pumped laser using a YAG rod. I'm not a physician but a product designer and want to make a open source sun-powered laser cutter (or to start with engraver) which is (once working) to be used in off-grid environments in the ever growing off-grid cities of the world but also in rural setting where there is no electricity. I am really interested in the hacking culture of devices to produce a guide using readymade materials like the rod and the mirror set up in combination with a large fresnel lens focussing the light into fiber optics and from what i understand there needs to be a proper cooling system to not brake the crystal. Anyone who has got some advise on this subject or tried to build one already please share the knowledge its for a good cause but also a really current subject.
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Old 10-22-2010, 12:14 PM #2
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Default Re: Solar Pumped Laser

In theory, it is possible. However, in practice, there's many issues that need to be taken into account.

Firstly, you'd need a large Fresnel rod and a relatively small YAG rod in order to acheive the necessary power densities.

Yes, the rod will also need to be cooled. Although there will be many hundreds of watts of sunlight focused onto the rod, only a few of those will be the 808nm required by the YAG. Using a bandpass filter may reduce the cooling requirements of the YAG rod.

I'm too sleepy to think of everything, but here's a start.
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Old 10-22-2010, 04:05 PM #3
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Default Re: Solar Pumped Laser

Thank you for making a start!
I'm in the process of creating a website trying to accumulate as much knowledge about the solar-pumped lasers as possible so as many people as possible can have a go at experimenting.
I was thinking of at least one square meter fresnel lens to focus the light. Here is a link to a big experiment in japan where they have 4 sq m fresnel lenses creating a fair amount of power.

Experimental study of solar pumped laser for magnesium-hydrogen energy cycle

if this could be done on a smaller and more affordable way e.g. hacking existing lasers it could work.
what do you think .....?
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Old 10-22-2010, 06:15 PM #4
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Default Re: Solar Pumped Laser

The hard way: It would be something like fresnel lens or parabolic mirror to gather the sun's light, filter to reject the heat but pass everything shotrer than about 1,000nm. Condenser lens to concentrate the light, with other beam shaping optics. The light would be focused into a dye mixture surrounding the rod that converts the light to near 808nm. Alternately the sunlight can pump a flowing dye laser for better efficiency.

The easier way: Sun, solar battery charger, electrically driven yag laser
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Old 10-22-2010, 06:33 PM #5
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Default Re: Solar Pumped Laser

Don't forget that the Earth rotates in its orbit.
You'd have to adjust it every couple of minutes if you want the sunlight to remain focused at the same point.
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Old 10-23-2010, 01:33 PM #6
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Default Re: Solar Pumped Laser

Yes the fresnel lens definitely needs to be mounted on a solar tracking device. I understand that it seems to be the hard way but i think its worth trying for the quality of direct sunlight power and as little electricity as possible. I think also that fresnel lenses are fairly cheap in comparison with large photovoltaic cells and drivers and batteries. I think conceptually to use the sun directly without any batteries, even if it only works at day, makes sense. A machine that sleeps at night cannot keep anyone awake doing night shifts. A small computer, run on open source software and a small motors to move the laser head and the tracking device- thats where electricity is still needed but a fairly small panel should do it.
Any detailed descriptions of a possible solar laser set up?
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Old 10-25-2010, 09:12 PM #7
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Default Re: Solar Pumped Laser

Nd:YAG probably has more absorbtion in it's spectra than 808nm, but 808nm is (no surprise) the best. I think a large solar cell powering a 808nm diode bar will be far more practical and efficient, and much cheaper than large optics and filters.

Solar cells have a relatively low efficiency and diode bars add losses too, but the eventual 808nm output will be far better than hard to focus spectrally rubbish sunlight which will be VERY lossy.
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