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Old 08-23-2013, 07:28 PM #1
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Default Science experiment: Does changing atmosphic conditions affect the accuracy of a laser

Hi... has anyone ever tested if certain substances like car exhaust, gas (aerosol), fog or rain affect the accuracy of a laser beam?



My son is thinking about doing an experiment... The test is: Will changing the atmospheric conditions affect the accuracy of a laser beam?

The experiment will have a laser fixed a one set hight and then setting up a bull's eye type of target at a fixed distance away from the laser. He would point to laser and mark that it is center on the target. Then he would change the atmosphere by introducing fog conditions from a fog machine... note where the laser points to on the bull's eye and what is the distance (if any) away from the center of the target.

He is uncertain at this point the exact types of atmospheric conditions to introduce so suggestions are welcome!

He wants to perhaps use smog conditions by using the exhause of an old truck. As long as the laser is set at a set distance from the starting point to the target we could move to the back end of a truck to point the laser through the exhaust. This may be challenging if we cannot collect enough exhaust.

The other though is to set the experiment up with rain condiions... by using the sprinklers.

Any thoughts or comments welcome


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Old 08-23-2013, 10:04 PM #2
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Default Re: Science experiment: Does changing atmosphic conditions affect the accuracy of a l

If the effect distorts or warps your line of sight to the target, then yes, it'll equally affect the laser beam.

One of the fun things you could do is try to pass a beam through fire or over very hot surface. Distortion should be enough to make the dot on the target dance around, I'd imagine.
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Old 08-31-2013, 08:34 AM #3
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Default Re: Science experiment: Does changing atmosphic conditions affect the accuracy of a l

You'll need a means to test the fidelity of the signal being transmitted by the laser. A good one that is easy to detect a difference with is transmitting music via laser beam. There are various Instructable and Youtube tutorials that show how that works.

Then you could evaluate how particulates in the air, or heat as Eudaimonium mentioned, affects the quality of the sound stream. You could also see if distance matters, or even vibrations from traffic, etc.
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