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Wicked Lasers' new 1 W laser pointer hits the market

  1. Jun 16, 2010 #1

    The laser in this thing is an Indium Gallium Nitride multimode laser diode which is very cutting edge stuff - they have only entered the market this year, and are being used in high-brightness modern DLP projectors. Because they're used in commercial gear, there is an economy of scale associated with their manufacturing, driving the cost down.

    Also, these new laser diodes are producing their laser light at 445 nm straight off the laser diode - there are no pumped crystals, SHG or nonlinear optics in the laser assembly like there are in traditional green (532 nm) and blue (473 nm) solid-state lasers, making these significantly cheaper.

    The laser diode is technically sweet, but this thing still concerns me, a lot. This is by far the most dangerous laser pointer the world has ever seen. It's an order of magnitude more powerful than most other high-powered laser pointers and really, Wicked Lasers still markets them like they're toys and sells them to anyone. They're relatively cheap, too, so they're accessible to a larger number of people. I really think this is going to end in tears for someone.

    There are no good excuses for having a 1W laser pointer, either. As a pointer for astronomy? For optics experiments? 50 mW is heaps of beam power for those purposes.

    I really don't think a handheld class IV laser pointer should exist at all. I think just creating it and marketing it, ready for any moron to buy and use, is a bit irresponsible.

    I think, personally, companies like Wicked Lasers need to start being a bit more responsible about self-regulating.

    This thing is a Class IV laser, and they're still marketing it like it's a toy, and they're packaging it in a casing that deliberately looks like a lightsaber, for goodness' sake.

    ~100 mW laser pointers are still reasonably dangerous to one's vision, and they still can't be used responsibly by the public. This thing is an order of magnitude more powerful.

    If you're using a 1 W laser in a lab or similar setting, you would enclose the beam, mount it on an optical table well below head height, interlock it to the lab door, lock out the power supply with a keyswitch, make sure the beam is properly terminated, keep all untrained people out of the laser room, post the appropriate warning signs, wear protective clothing and no watch or jewellery, attenuate the laser beam before working on the optics... and a huge list of other stuff you must follow for safety. Heck, my 150 mW laser has a keyswitch on the power supply, a safety beam shutter and an emission indicator. And yet anyone can wave these things around with absolutely no engineered controls at all.

    Nobody should be playing with a class IV laser at all without at least some real understanding of lasers and laser safety.

    Yes, I know, you can just buy the laser diodes. But laser diodes are temperamental - they're not like light bulbs or LEDs. If your driver electronics and your heatsinking isn't right you won't get laser light - at least not for long. If you can wire up and mount your own laser diode, that filters out a lot of stupid people - but selling this "lightsaber" off the shelf fully assembled makes it available to any idiot.

    One watt of optical power in a handheld battery powered laser pointer, available online to anyone for $200, is a recipe for trouble. Stupid people will get a hold of it.

    This is worth reading --->

  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 16, 2010 #2
    Yeah, I have a <300mw handheld green laser from Laserglow. Kicks butt. Can only imagine what a 1 watt would be like.
  4. Jun 16, 2010 #3
    I'd be burning people's newspapers as they're reading them from down the street.
  5. Jun 16, 2010 #4
    what is the practical use of this supposed to be?
  6. Jun 16, 2010 #5
    Practical.. zero.
    Fun... 100%
  7. Jun 16, 2010 #6


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    A toy you can commit a war crime with?

    http://www.un.org/millennium/law/xxvi-18-19.htm [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  8. Jun 16, 2010 #7
    minerva, this truly scares me.

    Sounds fun. Except it's really hard to aim a laser pointer accurately, and even if by luck you don't clip anybody's eye with the edge of the beam, we're now talking about a light bright enough that the just the diffuse reflection can still be enough to cause permanent eye damage. (As if you really believed you could set fire to the contents of a person's lap without seriously harming them.) Idiots like you are the reason it is a problem.

    Just a few months ago, in some little Australian city, some kids tried keeping a green laser pointer aimed (anonymously from hundreds of metres away) at the driver cabin of a random vehicle that I happened to be in. It is amazingly difficult to calmly maintain safe control of a vehicle on a curved road in traffic when unexpectedly being suddenly blinded for seconds at a time repeatedly and whilst wondering if you are accumulating (or might have already suffered) permanent eye damage. If they're doing that now (while green lasers are the ones that are hard to get), how many people will lose their vision when these higher class lasers are easily available?

    On slashdot, someone made the point that we need to distinguish things that take great effort to use safely (as opposed to things that merely take effort to use dangerously, like conventional weapons). It would be extremely difficult to use this laser at all for any purpose without soon permanently harming someone's vision accidentally. And unlike driving a car, for example, the other people literally have no chance to see it coming before the damage has occured, no option to stay off the road, no expectation that the person in control has any training.
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2010
  9. Jun 17, 2010 #8


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    A class IV laser is essentially a weapon; the rules for using one in a research/commercial environment are extremely strict.
    I think it is worth emphasising that a laser this powerful will (as opposed to just might) make you blind if you happen to aim it at your eyes OR (as happened to a PhD student at my old university who was working with a class IV laser) happen to aim at a reflecting surface; the reflected beam will still be strong enough to permanently damage your eyes.
  10. Jun 17, 2010 #9
    Re: This world is going to..

    1W ,is that a little bit crazy, yes.
    I have a 5mW green lazer pointer,although it has no heat effect when you point the light to your hand,it is really very bright.
    1W , i think could immidiately hurt your skin badly.
    Maybe from now on, we must have something to protect our eyes or other body parts.
    Perhaps human is not doomed by nuclear weapon but lazer beam.
    I am from China and i am a student, i heard of that there are some football fans using lazer pointer to blind the gatekeeper temporarily in a football game, if they have the 1W pointer,the player maybe blind forever, how terrifying it is.
  11. Jun 17, 2010 #10
    The good thing about a bright blue laser is that anyone who tries to hurt someone with one will imediately give their location away. What is more scary are the availability of the high power infrared laser diodes, and these have been available for years at even higher power levels. These are completely invisible and hence are much more dangerous to the eyes, since there is no natural reflex response to avoid the beam.

    I agree it's scary, but it's always been scary to me, and infrared lasers are far more terrifying than visible ones. If somehow a trend starts where kids start playing with these blue lasers en masse, then I will go out and buy those amber (blue blocking) sunglasses and wear them in public places. This is basically the same material used to block UV light in various applications, and is effective to block very high power blue argon-ion lasers.
  12. Jun 17, 2010 #11


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    Kind of
  13. Jun 17, 2010 #12
  14. Jun 17, 2010 #13
    I've seen a 1.7W laser pointer being used to burn wood, it didn't immediately set fire to it but it did start smoking after a few seconds. I wouldn't want to get it in my eyes however and it would probably feel uncomfortable on the skin even for a few seconds but kill in a few seconds?

    If that's a statement about direct contact with the laser then I don't think that's possible.
  15. Jun 17, 2010 #14


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    Well, the other side of the laser is a sharpened spear so you can just stab people with it
  16. Jun 17, 2010 #15
    It was more of a joke than anything. But if someone is holding a newspaper and it was set on fire with a laser, they're not going to be hurt at all. Imagine holding a newspaper and part of it catches on fire. You would have to keep holding on to the paper, stick your head in the fire on the newspaper until your hair caught fire, then keep your head upside down so the flame travels up the rest of your body. Who would do that?
  17. Jun 17, 2010 #16
    Ugh, these things should be classified as weapons. I think 100mW ones are here in Sweden, but I'm not sure.
  18. Jun 17, 2010 #17
    No, that's not how the laser would kill, obviously. I'm not going to give anyone ideas, but there are other ways the misuse of the laser could result in death.
  19. Jun 17, 2010 #18
    If you just are meaning that it would cause an accident then that has really nothing to do with the power behind the laser. You could cause an accident with a 50mW laser, the damage done to the person however is significantly different if an accident doesn't occur, but if one does occur and death occurs the fact that it was a 1W laser doesn't strike me as the culprit since any laser could do the job.
  20. Jun 17, 2010 #19
    I disagree. Greater power is a greater hazard. The distance that damage or distraction can be done over increases with greater power, and the probablity of damage or distraction goes up with power. Damage or distraction can cause accidental death. I would say more, but I'm serious when I say that I'm not going to give anyone specific ideas.

    Still, you are correct that a 50 mW laser is a very significant hazard, if misused.
  21. Jun 17, 2010 #20
    My <300mw green laser from laserglow is quite spectacular.
    You can easily see the beam from the side during night(or inside a house during day)

    And from a quarter mile away hitting a reflective surface the beam comes back to my eyes dazzling and disorienting. Just very brief viewing of course.

    I will not let any minor, or drunken adult or such handle it. In fact, if I've had a few beers I will not handle it.
    Though perhaps not as dangerous as a gun, there are some real dangers with eye exposure, so I treat it as if it were a gun.

    BTW a 1-watt laser, even infrared, will not kill a person from a momentary "shot"
    My 300mw green laser takes about 4 seconds at 2-inches from your skin to even begin to feel a burning sensation. Yes, it is uncomfortable, and granted it's not infrared, but neither is the 1-watt mentioned.
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2010
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