Old 03-05-2014, 10:41 PM #1
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Default Can static electricity kill a laser pointer?

Hello guys.

I have a question about static electricity. Let's say I have one of my pointers (I have a couple of Arctics as well as a few Lazerer units, and a couple of home made units on flashlight hosts) on a table, and I pick it up, and I just happen to have static electricity, which discharges from my hand onto the host of the laser.

Is there a possibility to damage the laser if this occurs? I'm curious because most hosts use the body of the host itself to connect the negative terminal of the battery to the laser diode itself, and I was wondering if there was possibility for static charge to go up into the diode this way and kill it?


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Old 03-05-2014, 11:12 PM #2
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Default Re: Can static electricity kill a laser pointer?

There is very good chance that it could.
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Old 03-05-2014, 11:23 PM #3
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Default Re: Can static electricity kill a laser pointer?

Wonder if it would be more prone to damage on dpss lasers with case positive etc?
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Old 03-05-2014, 11:46 PM #4
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Default Re: Can static electricity kill a laser pointer?

There are devices you can retrofit to make your laser diode impervious to static. You can buy a Lasorb, you can also make your own protection circuitry. Just depends on how important that particular laser is to you.

Generally, the charge is trying to find its way to the Earth ground. Usually, this just involves travelling on the surface of whatever it is you zapped. Not to say that you may just be putting the body of the laser at a higher potential than the rest and that the high difference in potential wouldn't find its way through the diode. Just wanted to say if you zap your laser, don't throw it away assuming it's dead (who would do that anyways?), but try it to make sure it still works.
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Old 03-05-2014, 11:56 PM #5
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Default Re: Can static electricity kill a laser pointer?

Thanks guys. Thankfully I haven't zapped anything, but I got a serious shock when my leg hit my chair right before I was about to grab one of my lasers (I grounded myself before I grabbed it to be safe) and the question occurred to me then.

The static protection circuitry might be a good idea. I'm going to look into that.
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Old 03-06-2014, 03:47 AM #6
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Default Re: Can static electricity kill a laser pointer?

Quote:
Can static electricity kill a laser pointer?
bare laser diodes? Definitely. Laser pointers? not a chance.

Bare diodes are susceptible because anode and cathode are electrically exposed. to damage the junction of a laser diode, you need a high potential across the junction. The case and attached circuitry present in a pointer prevents that from happening.
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Old 03-06-2014, 04:00 AM #7
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Default Re: Can static electricity kill a laser pointer?

Yeah if it's already built then the static won't hurt it.
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Old 03-06-2014, 04:12 AM #8
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Default Re: Can static electricity kill a laser pointer?

Maybe if you had the tailcap removed, the batteries still inserted, and managed to touch the back end of the battery first, and even then it'd be a big maybe. Just picking up the laser, no chance.
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Old 03-06-2014, 05:07 AM #9
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Default Re: Can static electricity kill a laser pointer?

Ok cool, I never keep my lasers with batteries inside. I treat them like I treat my guns, always unloaded and only loaded when in use in a safe environment

So yes, my lasers are built, no exposed parts, and no batteries.

So if in this condition the diode is unlikely to be damaged, could the driver circuitry be damaged instead?
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Old 03-06-2014, 05:10 AM #10
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Default Re: Can static electricity kill a laser pointer?

Nope. Everything inside that metal can is protected. More reading: Faraday cage - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Old 03-06-2014, 05:35 AM #11
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Default Re: Can static electricity kill a laser pointer?

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Originally Posted by Things View Post
Nope. Everything inside that metal can is protected. More reading: Faraday cage - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Interesting. I was aware of Faraday Cages, but still found some very useful info. I am a bit confused by this though:

Quote:
Faraday cages cannot block static or slowly varying magnetic fields, such as the Earth's magnetic field
Any input?
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Old 03-06-2014, 05:40 AM #12
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Default Re: Can static electricity kill a laser pointer?

That caught me out at first too, but they mean static magnetic fields (ie, if you held a magnet to it), not static electricity.

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Old 03-06-2014, 05:46 AM #13
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Default Re: Can static electricity kill a laser pointer?

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That caught me out at first too, but they mean static magnetic fields (ie, if you held a magnet to it), not static electricity.
Ah, ok thank you sir that makes sense.
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Old 03-06-2014, 09:56 PM #14
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Default Re: Can static electricity kill a laser pointer?

I've discharged static through pointer hosts and thrown sparks, never a problem. The electrons just want to jump off ASAP, there is no reason for them to travel inside the host. The electric field ensures that they collect on the outside of the host.

I keep my lasers "loaded", i.e. batteries installed, most of the time, I don't see a problem with that. The only exception is my 1W 808nm, which I never store with installed batteries, but that's a matter of eye safety rather than worrying about whether or not the laser gets fried. That one I do treat like a gun, literally, due to the inherent dangers of IR plus the high power. Nothing else in my collection currently comes close in terms of hazard.

But yeah, never killed a pointer with static, just clumsiness
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