Light Waves

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Peace in the Colors

A powerful white light krypton ion laser presents the light artist with a full spectrum of useable colors.  The white laser beam can be separated into its component colors using a prism or a high quality diffraction grating.


By attaching one end of the prism or diffraction grating to a hinged pivot and mounting the other end to the tip of a micrometer head the color of the laser beam can be controlled.


A fan like spray of brightly colored peak line laser beams will emerge from the prism or diffraction grating.  These beams can be selected and directed to other optical effects by using front surface mirrors.


Light from a laser behaves in much the same way that a single beam of sunlight behaves. Laser light is typically coherent light. Because of its coherence a laser beam can be used to reveal subtle optical aberrations in irregular reflecting surfaces or irregular refracting lenses.


Many popular laser special effects are based upon this one concept.  Often the coherent laser beam is directed through glass that has a surface that is lens like but not necessarily spherical.  The lens may be any shape that the glass artist creates.


To illustrate, imagine you took molten glass and let it drip randomly on a polished surface that is coated with a mold release.  After annealing you would have a sort of plano convex lens. That is you would have a piece of glass that is flat on one side and curved on the other. BUT the curved surface would not be perfectly spherical.  If you were to shine a laser through that oddly curved glass lens the shape of the projected beam could be changed almost infinitely by changing the angle and location at which the laser beam enters the glass.


The oddly shaped glass "lens" causes the laser beam to fan out and gather in as it is moved in relation to the laser beam creating irregular shapes that are very graceful and organic like the "Lightwaves" pictured above.


The glass "lens" can also be coated with aluminum and other metals in a high vacuum coating chamber creating an irregular reflecting surface with similar but not identical effects.


By layering the optical effects and the number and color of the laser beams highly complex and beautiful projections can be produced.


A krypton ion white light laser is not necessary to produce the basic effect. In fact, a light artist can use any laser, DPSS, HeNe, Argon, etc.  to create this particular special effect. 




All images copyright 2014, J. Sonderegger, All Rights Reserved.

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Peace in the colors!