Home-Built Copper Chloride (CuCl) and Copper Bromide (CuBr) Laser

The copper chloride (CuCl) and copper bromide (CuBr) lasers are variations of the copper vapor laser. The Cu vapor laser runs at a high temperature of around 1, 100 °C and is driven with a high voltage pulse, usually at a repetition rate of 8 to 10 kHz. Its output is roughly split 50:50 between the green (510 nm) and yellow (578 nm) wavelengths. B
Home-Built Copper Chloride (CuCl) and Copper Bromide (CuBr) Laser - schematic

y starting with a halide of copper rather than pure metal, the CuCl and CuBr lasers can operate at lower temperatures than required to produce copper in vapor form. However, the copper must be dissociated from its halogen atoms to lase. For this reason, power requirements are somewhat unusual in that a pair of high voltage pulses in rapid succession is needed to operate the laser: The first separates the Cu and Cl or Br atoms and the second pumps the Cu atoms to the required upper energy state for lasing to take place. Since, the lifetime of the separate atoms is short, this must be repeated for each activation of the laser. This makes the power supply design a bit more interesting than the run-of-the-mill neon sign transformer! Also they are pulsed lasers but at a high enough repetition rate, the output will appear continuous. This can be accomplished by a simple but brute-force motor driven distributor somewhat like that used in an automotive ignition or by a fancy sophisticated solid state power supply. The former looks and sounds like something out of a bad Sci-Fi movie (or nightmare, take your pick) but works! A quasi-CW CuCl/CuBr laser can also be built (and this approach may be used commercially). At a repetition rate of several kHz, enough copper ions exist in the dissociated state so that lasing occurs on every pulse. In other words, each pulse does double duty. Building a suitable pulsar is, however, left for the...

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