I was flipping through some older websites about copper, copper chloride, copper bromide, etc lasers.  These are highly efficient pulsed lasers with large peak outputs, and reasonable average outputs. They have a few complexities about them which tend to make them more interesting, however they are well within the means for an amateur electronic / high voltage / laser hobbyist to build from scratch.

In particular I am looking towards building a copper chloride experimental laser, because it seems within my means on a resources level, and ‘technical ability’ level as well. Additionally there are already several other home built CuCl lasers out there to base a design or basic features and needs off of.

The first big requirement is a heated cavity.  Most copper solutions require high temperatures in order to properly laser.  Vaporizing copper itself takes extremely high temperatures in the range of  1500 to 1700 degrees Celsius, which is why most people are using copper halides which have a vaporization temperture of 300 to 600 degrees Celsius.

The second major requirement, if you decided against trying to vaporize pure copper, is that copper chloride requires a double pulse to fire properly.  The first pulse disassociates the chloride from the copper, the second pulse is the lasing pulse.  These pulses are very close together, in the range of 100’s of nanoseconds.  Most designs I have seen use a capacitor bank tied to rotory spark gap to generate the timing.

One of the nice points about this kind of laser is that it does not require any kind of special laser optics, which can sometimes be very expensive.

A few of the sites I was looking back at are below. The first is from Chris Chagaris’ website. Back when I was a super-duper laser nut I talked with Chris a lot via email, newsgroup and chatroom on a now defunct website dedicated to laser hobbyists. He is a very smart guy with many science hobbies, and was very willing to share his knowledge.

Chris Chagaris’ CuCl Laser — Actually I can’t seem to find his site anymore, which is a shame, I have an archived copy of it, but no live link to share. If you do a search of his name + laser via your favorite search engine , you are bound to turn up many photos of his various laser designs.

Here are a few other resources though.

The CVL Guide V101 ( Provided by Laser F/X ), this is intended as reference material for home builders and includes most information you will need about the technical requirements of a copper vapor laser.  This is a 20 page PDF file put together by Jeff Aust.

Home Made CuCl Laser Page by Laserist (also available in Italian)

Sam’s Laser FAQ  – Home-Built Copper Chloride (CuCl) and Copper Bromide (CuBr) Laser

I have some reading and planning to do, but I’ll post information, updates and photos as they are available.

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