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What can I do with a CENCO High Pressure Mercury Arc Lamp ?

  1. Dec 11, 2011 #1


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    What can I do with a "CENCO High Pressure Mercury Arc Lamp"?

    I'm a high school physics teacher. I inherited a "CENCO High Pressure Mercury Arc Lamp." Are there any useful demos and/or labs I can use this for?
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 12, 2011 #2
    Re: What can I do with a "CENCO High Pressure Mercury Arc Lamp"?

    Might be good for zombie movie lighting:

    and I did not realize this:

    A few different lamps with different emission spectrums could be used to illustrate the way observations and interpretations are made regarding the composition of stars.

    More good info here:


    I did not realize there are at least THREE potential hazards...the presence of mercucy......obviously, high pressure, but also the presence of ultraviolet radiation.

    Some interesting comparison of light sources here:


    Good luck.
  4. Dec 13, 2011 #3

    Andy Resnick

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    Re: What can I do with a "CENCO High Pressure Mercury Arc Lamp"?

    If you have not had any experience using a lamp of this type, I recommend finding someone who can show you how to use one safely. High pressure Hg arcs require high voltage power supplies and draw large currents- there are electrical hazards you must be aware of. In addition, there are optical hazards- Hg lamps can emit significant amounts of UV light.

    Finally, handling the bulb is something to consider- never touch the glass envelope with bare fingers, and if someone had, the bulb should be disposed of (which involves dealing with Hg disposal issues)- the interior of the bulb can reach 200 atm pressure, and reactions between the salt and oil in fingerprints and the glass leads to weakening of the glass, possibly resulting in an explosion.

    Now, if you have received some safety training, you can use the lamp for lots of things- it's a high spatial coherence source with discrete spectral bands- it's good for spectroscopy, holography, fluorescence, high-speed photography, etc.
  5. Dec 22, 2011 #4
    Re: What can I do with a "CENCO High Pressure Mercury Arc Lamp"?

    I'm looking for GE and Cenco high pressure mercury arc lamps from the 1940s or early 1950s, for a display of early holography. If yours happens to be of such vintage, maybe you'd be interested in selling it?

    I also collect lasers, and laser related equipment and books from the 1960s and '70s. If anyone here happens to have any old Ealing or Gaertner mounting equipment, Laser Focus magazines, or really old looking lasers collecting dust in some old cabinet, please contact me.
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