Old 06-15-2014, 02:56 PM #1
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Default The Atmosphere & Lasers

So we have all seen how quickly this technology(specifically within the hobby) is progressing. And it got me thinking. We point our lasers up into the sky all the time. How many watts would it take to cause any sort of Atmospheric damage? I imagine it would have to be pretty high. Then again, I remember when we were first getting over 1.5W and 3 seemed only in the futures of dual diode builders. Now we have 5.6W out of a single diode.

If at some point our handhelds get powerful enough to damage the atmosphere that would be a very bad day methinks.

Anybody know numbers or willing to theorize about it?


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Old 06-15-2014, 03:17 PM #2
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Default Re: The Atmosphere & Lasers

I think all the lasers in the world can't equal the sun, but then again I am no expert on this. Maybe if they can ionize the air they could cause damage, again I don't know. I would think we would need Star Trek type phasers or Star Wars type ion cannons or some such thing before we need to worry about damaging the atmosphere.

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Old 06-15-2014, 05:00 PM #3
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Default Re: The Atmosphere & Lasers

Or everyone on the planet who owns a handheld laser could go out in a large place, I don't know, maybe a desert or salt flat, point all their lasers to one point in the sky and see what happens ! or at one point on the ground! It might be like the death star firing on Alderaan ! Maybe some passing UFO would pick it up and give us a prize or enslave us for such a waste of photons! Maybe God would come down and say Gosh Darn it, that is just too cool man ! Maybe it would open an extra dimensional portal and we would see exact copies of ourselves. Maybe it would open a time portal and we could go to the future and bring back even more powerful diodes decades before they are even imagined. With my luck it would bring me to the future earth where all food tastes like liver. Man I hate liver and I would get trapped there and die of starvation! Hmmm maybe pointing all lasers to one spot might not be such a good idea after all.
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Old 06-15-2014, 05:14 PM #4
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Default Re: The Atmosphere & Lasers

Let's shoot a little lower rather than how much power to damage the air/atmosphere. lol

How much laser output power would be required to explode the air in the path of the beam. Would be great to have a laser powerful enough to do that--make noise due exploding of the air---guess would be a cross between thunder and firecracker, large going off.
Would be interesting and entertaining without damaging the atmosphere/air--just using it for effect.
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Old 06-15-2014, 08:31 PM #5
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Default Re: The Atmosphere & Lasers

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Originally Posted by Encap View Post
Let's shoot a little lower rather than how much power to damage the air/atmosphere. lol

How much laser output power would be required to explode the air in the path of the beam. Would be great to have a laser powerful enough to do that--make noise due exploding of the air---guess would be a cross between thunder and firecracker, large going off.
Would be interesting and entertaining without damaging the atmosphere/air--just using it for effect.

It gets done all of the time, you need nanosecond or shorter pulses at a few millijoules to 50 millijoules, but there must be dust in the air for a breakdown to occur. If there is no dust, the threshold is much higher in air.

Its a sharp click with no ringing, no bang at very low energies, but you will hear it echo off the room walls. I do it all the time in the lab while adjusting systems. Has a dim white ball of plasma.

This is well out of direct diode range, and requires a Q-switched or Mode-locked laser.

There is plenty of air breakdown videos on youtube. Steve

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Old 06-15-2014, 08:38 PM #6
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Default Re: The Atmosphere & Lasers

"Atmospheric damage" is just the breakdown of air into plasma. Happens millions of times a day thanks to lightning. This is one of those genuine "nothing to see here folks" cases.
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Old 06-15-2014, 09:41 PM #7
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Default Re: The Atmosphere & Lasers

Is this the reason Q switched lasers click while in use? I always just figured it was something mechanical. But if it is this air thing that is cool. Thanks for explaining this guys!
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Old 06-15-2014, 10:00 PM #8
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Default Re: The Atmosphere & Lasers

Quote:
Originally Posted by ru124t View Post
Or everyone on the planet who owns a handheld laser could go out in a large place, I don't know, maybe a desert or salt flat, point all their lasers to one point in the sky and see what happens ! or at one point on the ground! It might be like the death star firing on Alderaan ! Maybe some passing UFO would pick it up and give us a prize or enslave us for such a waste of photons! Maybe God would come down and say Gosh Darn it, that is just too cool man ! Maybe it would open an extra dimensional portal and we would see exact copies of ourselves. Maybe it would open a time portal and we could go to the future and bring back even more powerful diodes decades before they are even imagined. With my luck it would bring me to the future earth where all food tastes like liver. Man I hate liver and I would get trapped there and die of starvation! Hmmm maybe pointing all lasers to one spot might not be such a good idea after all.
You have an overactive imagination and like me have probably watched too much science fiction, however many of us may live long enough to have to eat "Soylent Green" (probably tastes like liver) and learn to like it.

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Old 06-15-2014, 11:49 PM #9
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Default Re: The Atmosphere & Lasers

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pi R Squared View Post
You have an overactive imagination and like me have probably watched too much science fiction, however many of us may live long enough to have to eat "Soylent Green" (probably tastes like liver) and learn to like it.

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Old 06-16-2014, 12:07 AM #10
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Default Re: The Atmosphere & Lasers

Errrr... Does it really taste like liver?
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Old 06-16-2014, 01:32 AM #11
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Default Re: The Atmosphere & Lasers

Quote:
Originally Posted by ru124t View Post
Errrr... Does it really taste like liver?
It is tasteless
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