What does it take to make your own laser-powered Star Wars lightsaber?
Monday, March 05, 2018
Is it possible to make your own lightsaber? Every kid who saw a Star Wars movie probably has this question in mind.
The laser industry is booming and with the deals we can find nowadays, this question is now more interesting than ever before. Let’s see what it would take to make your own lightsaber.
The first challenge you will meet is to find a laser that’s powerful enough to cut steel or a rebel’s arm, leg, or neck. Today, we can assume that a laser of 50 kilowatts of average power would be perfect to cut steel, just like we saw in the movie. Good news is, this exists at the moment from a few select fiber manufacturers such as IPG Photonics, with their 1070 nm fiber laser.
The second step is to power the 50-kilowatt laser. Lasers these days can reach 30% efficiency when it comes to converting electrical power to optical power. Therefore, we *only* need a 166-kW source to laser it up. Note to my future self: ask Elon Musk for one colossal battery.
The entire visible spectrum of colors is pretty much all represented in the Star Wars universe for lightsabers. So, you can simply choose the color that best represents your inclination and combines it with the laser above. Red is a good color to start with since the Empire did nothing wrong.
Lasers stay spatially-coherent on quite a long distance, so the length itself required to attenuate the beam through thin air is therefore quite long as well. So, to make a 1-meter laser is rather complex: to achieve this, you’ll need a fixed mirror or a beam dump at the end of the laser to block it. Otherwise, expect collateral damage.
Fortunately, Gentec-EO excels at making beam dumps for up to 50 kW (see our Super HP series detector/beam dump).
This makes us wonder why they don’t make armors out of mirrors or reinforced with our famous absorber, but we can imagine that they forgot about it in the future.
When I talk about resistance, I mean the resistance between 2 sabers when they clash. Well, it has been observed that in specific occasions, we can see some resistance between two lasers when they are crossing each other. Maybe this effect can be amplified in the future.
Well, as you can see there are quite a few challenges in this project! But if you start to put money aside today, you may have just enough money in 200 years to make one when the technology will be there, which is still in the normal lifespan of a Wookie after all!