MadSci Network: Physics

Re: What is a telsa coil laser?

Date: Mon Oct 9 09:53:20 2000
Posted By: Karl Kolbus, Staff, Data processing, Mequon Consulting Corp.
Area of science: Physics
ID: 970172191.Ph

7Hello Ty,

I must admit that I have never heard of a Tesla laser, but I'll try to 
develop a theory as to what it is. In light of trying to be a good 
scientist, remember that this is only a thoery, nased upon the limited 
information I have to work with - namely, Tesla coil and laser.

First off, I think you meant to say Tesla; not telsa. Nikola Tesla was a 
scientist who was a pioneer in generating lightning-like bolts of 
electricity. This was done by creating a transformer with a high voltage 
and current capacity primary coil with relatively few turn of heavy gauge 
copper, which surrounded a secondary coil with many more turns of a 
lighter gauge copper. In theory, sending 1 volt of alternating current (or 
1 volt of pulsating direct current) into a ten-turn primary side of the 
transformer would produce 10 volts coming out of a 100-turn secondary 
side. This is a 1:10 turn ratio transformer. This, of course, assumes 100% 
efficiency; something never acheivable. Unklike a normal transformer, a 
Tesla coil uses no ferro-magnetic core to transfer the magnetic flux from 
the primary to the secondary, because the bult-up magnetic field in the 
core would saturate and take too long to collapse and actually transfer 
the flux to the secondary. Therefore, an "air core" transformer is 
created; the flux travels thru air, which does not delay the transfer. 
Now, instead of 1 volt being sent through the primary, lets send 1000 
volts thru it, and increase the "turns ratio from 1:10 to 1:1000. By 
simple multiplication, you can see that the theoretial output of the 
secondary would be 1 million volts! 

Now comes the laser. A simple gas laser uses (usually, but not always) a 
single gas like neon, argon, helium, carbon dioxide, etc. It is contained 
in a long tube, with a mirror at each end. One mirror is curved to 
establish a precise focal point and is almost totally reflective; the 
other is flat and mounted at the Brewster angle. I won't get into the 
Brewster angle - it refers to the diffraction of light through various 
substances; your teacher can explain this to you. This second mirror is 
only partially reflective so that the laser beam (photons) can escape once 
a sufficient energy level has been acheived. This is accomplished by 
applying a high-voltage direct current to the gas thru electrodes placed 
at either end of the tube. As the molecules of the gas gain electrons from 
the high-voltage current, they are raised to a new, high energy level. 
This energy level is unstable because the molecule has more electrons than 
is normal, and some of them fall to a lower energy level to achieve their 
normal state. In doing so, they release the excess electrons in the form 
of light (photons). These photons bounce back and forth between the 
mirrors, until a sufficient number of them have the combined power to 
escape thru the partially transparent mirror - the "business end" of the 

Let's now try to combine the Tesla coil with the laser. Many substances 
can be made to "lase". It has even been done with Jello, orange juice, and 
other unlikely materials. In order to lase, a substance must be "pumped" 
to the high energy level (excess of electrons). Some are easy to pump; 
other not so easy. I am theorizing that the Tesla coil, because of its' 
extremely high voltage output, is used to pump otherwise unlikely 
substances, probably gases, to the level needed to lase. Or, it may be a 
more normal gas like helium/neon in an extremely long tube, which would 
require a very large pumping charge. Or, the subance might require a high-
frequency charge pump. The Tesla coil would have an advantage here because 
the core, being air, can transfer the flux to the secondary almost 
instantaneously. A normal transformer cannot because the ferro-magnetic 
core slowly releases its' energy to the secondary, and increasing the 
input (primary) frequency would, at some point, interfere with the 
collapsing field of the core.

So you see, there are many possibilities - some more plausible than 
others. It is your job, as a scientist, to develop a hypothesis, test them 
by applying known laws of physics, electronics, chemistry and mathematics,
and developing your own conclusions. Then, submit your hypothesis and 
supporting evidence to teachers and peers and have them try to "shoot 
holes" in your theories.

Good luck! But remember - Lasers, even the "fountain pen" type diode 
lasers, can do irreparable damage to the eyes and other sensitive tissue. 
Always use protective eyewear, and make certain others are not in your 
line-of-fire; either directly or from reflection from shiny surfaces. 
Also, remeber that lasers, like the carbon dioxide laser, emit 
their "light" in the infra-red spectrum - NOT visible to the human eye, 
but EXTREMELY DANGEROUS! That's the one used to cut steel!

Your not-so-mad scientist,

Karl Kolbus

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