This includes plans for a HeNe power supply as well as complete ruby/Nd-YAG and CO2 lasers and other interesting stuff.
Extensive information on how to build lasers and how to use them, as well as info on building laser instruments (including several interferometers and spectrographs) and making holograms of various types (optical, microwave, acoustic). All of John Strong's (genius experimentalist) and Jeral Walker's columns on photonic devices are in this absolutely fabulous collection. See the section: Light and its Uses - Complete Table of Contents for a complete list of articles.
The book describes the construction of several types of lasers by amateurs including HeNe, argon ion, dye, CO2, and nitrogen - all from scratch (e.g., the HeNe and argon lasers require glassworking to fabricate the plasma tube.) It is not for the absolute beginner but suitable for anyone who has some considerable hobbyist type experience with electronics and/or lasers.
Note: To actually construct most of these projects requires a fair degree of skill and determination; access to some machining, glassworking, and/or high vacuum facilities; a source of electronic, optical, and mechanical components; and a stock of chemicals and other materials. However, much of this can be provided without the assets of a major R&D laboratory but will require improvisation. Nonetheless, the book makes for some very interesting and educational reading even if you are not going to be building anything. See the chapters starting with Amateur Laser Construction for more info on how to get started in home-built lasers.
This book is out of print but available at some libraries. It provides various driver circuits and a miniature laser + driver + battery built into a very small package.
Forrest Mims has also written a number of articles on how to use and build lasers. He is also an occasional contributor to the USENET newsgroups including those on the sci.electronics hierarchy.
This book includes descriptions of many common lasers, construction, and applications.
If you always wanted to really understand terms like population inversion, hyperfine transitions, and quantum efficiency, this old but solid book is for you. Be prepared for some heavy math. However, it does include some practical aspects of laser construction as well.
More heavy math, less practical information than .
Coverage of optical fibers, lenses, lasers, applications. A potpourri of topics, some rather sporadic but interesting nonetheless. Just take any circuits with a grain of silicon (if you look at Figure 7.2 you will know what I mean!).
Includes basic laser theory, descriptions of various types of lasers, some applications.
Introduction to lasers with emphasis on applications.
Much useful information but the only actual projects uses an IR laser diode to construct a simple communication link. And, their pathetic attempt at a laser diode driver circuit is amusing to say the least! (Hint: the design cannot possibly work as described.)
This is a nice article on general power supply considerations for HeNe and (small sealed) CO2 lasers.
Basic principles, types of lasers, applications.
You may be able to find many of these items in a large public library. The old issues of magazines are often on microfilm or microfiche.
One very powerful patent search facility that is currently free is the IBM Patent Server Site. Patents may be located by number, subject, inventor, or boolean text, as well as more advanced criteria. All patents referenced by a particular patent as well as all patents which reference that patent may be instantly located. The complete patent documents including diagrams are available at this web site for download. Text prints and CDROM copies may also be ordered (for a small fee).
The actual government run site, the US Patent and Trademark Office provides a flexible fast search engine but does not appear to include the complete patents (only the cover page and no graphics). However, hard-copies of the patents can be ordered on-line.
Searching on the key word 'laser' will turn up too many patents to consider. However, narrowing this with 'semiconductor' or 'driver' will restrict the search enough to home in on patents of interest. There will still be many that are likely to be of interest - you can spend days (or longer) at this!
Of course, it is also possible to search for patents the old fashioned way at your local large public library or by browsing the main patent office stacks in Washington, DC. However, these sorts of methods seam terribly archaic in comparison to the use of a modern patent database engine.
As with any type of discussion group, listen before you dive in. Get a feel for the types of questions that are typical and do not post a reply unless you are fairly confident of your answer! Basic questions are acceptable but it is proper etiquette to first attempt to locate the answer by checking past postings (by searching DejaNews.
A FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) document also exists for sci.optics. The Sci.Optics FAQ may already have answered your question as well.
The only laser (strictly engineering, not entertainment) discussion group I am currently aware of is hosted by EIO as part of their laser technical forum. They have several other technical forums as well including one on laser light shows and other areas of electronics:
For (mostly) laser show related topics, there are several discussion groups hosted by LaserFX accessible via the LaserFX - Laser Forums Web Page. Their current non-commerical forums include:
For topics related to amateur laser construction and other amateur scientist activities, check out these Society for Amateur Scientist (SAS) Web sites:
Once subscribed, all email sent to a specified address is distributed to all users of the listserver group. Thus, you can elect to participate in any or all discussions, or simply just monitor the traffic for your own interest or research. As with Usenet newsgroups, don't jump into a discussion without having an idea of the context - what has already transpired and then only if you have a valid question or can contribute in a knowledgeable way to the discussion.
The following web sites have information on the charters and how to subscribe to some laser related listservers:
Technical and safety issues relating to all aspects of laser used in display and entertainment. Very little traffic at this point.
Anyone with an interest in laser communications is welcome to join. You don't need to be a ham radio operator. See the section: Amateur Laser Communications for more info.
The SPIE would probably be considered the predominant photonics professional organization. However, not many people must know about this listserver as the traffic is quite low.
Where actual manufacturer's model numbers are listed in the catalog or on the web page, it is a good idea to confirm that the specifications actually do match. Inaccuracies in catalog entries are very common (like a HeNe laser listed as 5 mW that turns out to be only .5 mW, oops). Similarly, it would be disappointing to say the least if you blew a visible laser diode because the driver board actually required a regulated input when the listing claimed otherwise :-(.
Compare prices as well. There can be a wide variation in the price of the identical system or component among the various surplus houses or other suppliers. Haggling (at least with private individuals) may get you a better deal especially if you can identify lower prices elsewhere. More expensive items may be in better condition or newer, but not always - and it may not matter for your purposes.
A commercial supplier should know how to pack and ship fragile merchandise to prevent damage. However, when ordering from a private individual or if you should need to send laser parts through the mail, or via UPS, Fed-X, Airborn, etc., packing should be done such that the box can withstand being drop-kicked from a 10 story building. Four inches of bubble wrap or styrofoam peanuts on all sides should be considered a minimum with adequate protection between items as well. Stickers marked 'Fragile' and 'Do Not Drop' may just make the package a more inviting target. :-)
Then, when you receive your merchandise, make sure you actually were sold what was expected. Confirm that it behaves as advertised. I have received HeNe power supplies marked with reversed polarity, for example. Honest (or otherwise) mistakes in packing and labelling do occur. And, of course, DO NOT open the inner packaging or attempt to power an item that was shipped in error as getting a refund may be much more difficult if the seller can honestly claim you damaged something.
The Web site is split between the Industrial Optics and Consumer Scientific divisions and there are comprehensive search facilities for each.
They also sell through mail-order and offer nice thick free catalogs which are a must-have.
Offerings include new, used, or surplus lasers and laser components. Quality and prices may vary quite widely - check them out before ordering!
This site is one of the best kept secrets of the Web. It is definitely worth checking out since there is so much there!
This company is of the 'I thought I died and went to heaven' variety (whether you believe in that stuff or not) if you are need specialized high voltage rectifiers for your HeNe, CO2, or other laser or general high voltage power supply projects. They have an on-line catalog with complete specifications and offer to send a print catalog as well as free samples. I don't know to what extent this includes free samples to hobbyist types who may not be ordering $1,000,000 worth of merchandise. They say: "qualified OEMs only" which suggests not but it may still be worth a try if you only need a little diode or two, or will then need to buy 100 more. You can never tell when a company will consider the possibility of a referral or future loyal customer to be worth a modest initial investment! However, please don't abuse the privilege if they are accommodating.
(From: Kim Clay (firstname.lastname@example.org)).
I live in West Palm Beach, Florida & there aren't any surplus or discount electronics places close but I have found some nice sources on the web. Like
(To get an idea of what Kim has been putting together, see the section: Kim's Mid-Size HeNe Power Supply (KC-HL1). --- sam)
This place is definitely worth an 'at least check out their Web site'. Much weird stuff including specialized parts (as well as plans and complete kits) needed for the projects in the two Iannini books  and  (though cheaper alternatives using readily available components may be available).
However, the general consensus seems to be that some (I'll be generous) of their stuff (plans, kits, and assembled gizmos) is overhyped and/or does not work as advertised, so buyer beware!
(Note: I don't know if this outfit is still in business as there have been reports that they have not replied to email for several months).
This also usually means high prices for many items (at least compared to what you might have expected) so you should be sitting down when you are browsing the catalogs or Web sites of these suppliers.
Lasers and optics as well as many bargain priced new and surplus scientific items. The new research quality items are expensive but there are many reasonably prices parts, kits, and just plain old fascinating stuff.
Their catalog is a must even if you never intend to purchase anything. I remember fascinating trips to their retail store stocked with bin-upon-bin of interesting and unusual (and sometimes unidentifiable!) optical and electronic items. I do not know what it is like these days.
High quality new and used optical equipment and components. Check this company out if you are really serious about optical experiments (or need to equip a medium size optics research lab).
Some of the (as far as I know) current offers are listed below:
These tubes were originally designed for barcode scanners. They have been kept in clean storage and tested before shipping. A rare find!
This is a comprehensive database of laser diodes of all types, styles, and manufacturers. Searching without specifying any parameters will display the entire list - which is quite extensive. However, it is possible to narrow the search by manufacturer, power, wavelength, and other electrical, mechanical, and optical characteristics. Links then provide access to detailed laser diode specifications/datasheets.
It is also possible to obtain a print copy of their complete catalog and/or "Thor's Guide to Laser Diodes" from their web site or by writing to Thorlabs at the address shown in the section: Some Laser and Optics Manufacturers and Suppliers.
For lack of a better place to put them, there are a few laser service and repair companies listed here as well.
DISCLAIMER: Product and service descriptions and claims are from the company literature or Web sites. This listing is NOT necessarily an endorsement of what they offer!
Distributor/integrator of high power and pigtailed laser diodes, and CO2, argon ion, and Ti:Sa lasers. Their Web site includes specifications for all products (some with prices).
HeNe lasers, power supplies, positioning mechanics, linear motors, rotary motors and drives, motion controllers, and laser interferometers.
Note: The helium-neon laser product line of Aerotech has been acquired by the Laser Group of Melles Griot. These products include power supplies, laser heads and unique, patented single frequency adapter technology.
Argon/Krypton ion lasers, power supplies, accessories.
Compact, rugged, solid state lasers.
Manufacturer of optics, electro-optic instruments, and diode lasers with integral beam correction microlens - Circulaser(tm).
Diode lasers, PIN photodetectors, DPSS lasers, customized products. Spec sheets are available at their Web site.
Manufacturer of precise scientific instrumentation for laser test and measurement, surface imaging and measurement, and nanometer-scale positioning and alignment.
China based supplier of laser optics and other related components and kits.
CO2, tunable-dye, ion, CW, YAG, YLF, ultrafast, diode and diode-pumped solid-state lasers for science, medicine, and industry.
Other divisions of Coherent, Inc. include the Auburn Group (Coherent-Ealing, Optics, and Instruments), Medical Group (lasers and fiber optic delivery systems) and Lambda Physik (excimer and dye lasers and laser dyes).
Standard and custom-designed solid state laser systems for a variety of applications in science, industry and medicine.
Creative Technology is also the U.S. representative for ELECTRON CO., LTD.
Distributors of laser pointers, diode laser modules (including DPSS green and low cost red models) and laser beam profilers, and providers of related optics and electronics consulting services.
Solid state diode-pumped laser technology,
Standard and custom diffractive optical elements, as well as diffractive optics macros for Optical Research Associates (ORA)Code V optical design software.
Manufacturer of Diode Pumped Solid State Lasers. Formerly, part of Liconix.
Manufacturer of ion laser power supplies including the Aurora 40 single-phase air-cooled "Spectra 265" replacement.
While not actually a major manufacturer of lasers (they may package a few with their name), Edmunds Scientific is so well known that I didn't feel right about leaving them off of this list. They do resell a variety of HeNe lasers, an argon ion, diode laser modules, DPSS green lasers, laser pointers of all types, laser accessories. They are a major supplier of industrial optics and, of course, popular scientific gadgets of every conceivable description!
Tunable diode lasers, laser amplifiers, accessories, LabView programming system.
Ion laser cleaning, alignment, repair, and tube refurb; and ion laser power supply repair for systems from most major manufacturers.
Their Web site also includes a significant amount of information on ion laser tube and power supply adjustment, alignment, failure modes, troubleshooting, and repair. Unfortunately, most of this did not work with Netscape V3.04. Perhaps, it will work with your browser and/or the problems have since been corrected.
InGaAs photodiodes, and InGaAsP lasers for fiberoptics, and HgCdTe detectors for imaging and sensing applications.
New and used helium-neon, argon and krypton ion, and CO2 laser tubes, heads, power supplies, and accessories. Also some Nd:YAQ and other solid state lasers; laser show, welding, and medical laser systems; optics, scanners, and more. Get your ion laser tubes refilled as well!
High quality used lasers for the scientific, industrial, and laser show markets. Ion laser repair including complete ion tube refurbishing.
A supplier of laboratory benchtop instrumentation for laser diode control, fiberoptic Test and laser measurement application
Manufacturer of excimer and dye lasers, and laser dyes.
Laser gun sights, laser pointers, laser diodes, laser diode power supplies.
Manufacturer of power supplies for Helium-Neon, argon ion, and carbon dioxide lasers, and tungsten and gas discharge lamps.
Manufacturer of laser diode bars, arrays, modules, electronics and related products.
Argon and mixed gas lasers and components.
Manufacturer of precision optical components including lenses, windows, and prisms made from a broad range of crystalline and other exotic materials.
Fiber optic transmitter and receiver products, GaAs pulsed lasers and GaAs high power CW lasers.
Sales, service, and support for Coherent and Lexel ion lasers including plasma tube repair.
Laser consulting services - cutting, welding, heat treating - process evaluation, system design, process improvement.
Ion laser tubes (new and rebuilt); medical and surgical lasers, industrial and scientific lasers; microscopes and slit lamps; parts and accessories, service, etc.
High quality diode laser modules.
Air cooled argon and krypton ion lasers.
Laser Optics, Microlasers and Technologies, from .2 um to 20 um.
CO2 laser lenses and/or mirrors fabricated from zinc selenide, germanium, silicon, molybdenum.
Laser Science, Inc. designs, manufactures, and markets a variety of compact lasers, dye lasers, and doublers providing sources of low cost laser light from UV through IR. Products include pulsed nitrogen and nitrogen pumped tunable dye lasers, carbon dioxide lasers, and laser accessories.
Products include: CO2, Diode, and HeNe laser systems and equipment, distance measuring equipment, optical components, vision systems and illumination; sawmill, steelmill, mining and paper industry, and medical lasers, sensors, and equipment; surplus equipment, optics and lasers.
Design and manufacture of CW and Pulsed Nd:YAG lasers for OEM use.
Ion, dye, ultrafast continuous wave and mode-locked Ti:Sapphire laser systems.
Argon ion, helium-neon, and Nd:YAG lasers and diode laser modules.
Manufacturer of HeCd lasers.
Manufacturer of Diode Pumped Solid State (DPSS) Lasers.
Manufacturer of coaxial flashlamp pumped dye lasers.
Laser systems, related accessories and other electro-optical products. Major markets include the medical market, particularly dermatology and plastic surgery, and the growing conservation and laser cleaning market.
Lasers and related equipment, components, and software for laser show and other applications. Includes: DPSS and other lasers, scanning modules, small laser display systems, PCAOM devices, optics, etc.
HeNe lasers, laser diode systems and sub-assemblies, optics, accessories, components, coatings, much more.
HeNe and diode lasers and components, educational lasers/kits, optics, bar code scanners.
This joint venture, a spinoff of Uniphase Corporation, has developed and is marketing DPSS microlasers using a passive saturable absorber Q-switch and optional frequency multiplier crystal to provide visible green and UV output.
New Focus is a supplier of photonics tools for laser applications. Products include narrow-linewidth tunable diode lasers, ultrafast photodetectors (DC-60 GHz), electro-optic modulators, wavelength meters, mechanical positioners, motorized positioners, and high-performance optics.
Precision components and systems used for development and application of laser and optical technologies.
Old Omnichrome contact info (may no longer be valid):
13580/13620 Fifth Street
Chino, CA 91710
Phone: 1-909-627-1594 (probably sales)
Argon/krypton ion and helium-cadmium lasers, power supplies, accessories.
Laser diodes, modules, controllers, optics, laser power meters, accessories.
Lasers and accessories for research, development, and the whole industry. Argon and krypton ion lasers and power supplies, HeNe lasers (including green, yellow, orange, and IR in addition to red) and power supplies, diode laser modules and drivers, accessories.
High-power diode lasers, diode laser systems and integrated stacks, and fiber-coupled diode lasers.
Laser beam profiling instruments. They have some application notes on laser beam characteristics available upon request that may of general interest.
Manufacture and re-gas CO2 lasers and laser tubes (DC excited, sealed or slow flow) for medical & industrial applications. On-line laser tube specifications and prices.
Ion laser repairs.
Diode lasers and modules, accessories, diode pumped Hd:YAG lasers, HeNe power supplies, more.
Effects development, components, and systems for the laser show and laser lighting industry. Fiber optic system, optical components, electronic components, diffraction gratings, LaserCAD Software
Non-linear optics, pulse pickers, noise eaters, modulators, regen systems, EO systems, HV drivers, complete systems.
Coated and uncoated optical components and a comprehensive line of HeNe lasers. Standard and custom products.
High power laser diodes, subsystems, and accessories.
High power semiconductor diode lasers. SLI is also a supplier of laser diodes for rewriteable DVD and other optical drives, 630 to 650 nm, up to 40 mW.
DFB & Fabry-Perot laser diodes, linear and area photodiode arrays, line scan and 2-D CCD cameras, 2.2 um and 2.5 um photodetectors.
Manufacturer of laser diode chips, chip-on-carriers, and complete fiber pigtailed modules, with high kink free powers and wavelengths in the 980 nm pumping window for EDFAs.
Lasers and laser systems, optics, and optical instrumentation for OEM, science, and industry.
RF-excited sealed CO2 lasers.
Power laser diodes based on their 1 cm bar, laser diode modules for gas sensors and instrumentation, and custom optoelectronic functions for space and avionics applications.
Glass and plastic optical components, diffractive pattern generators, laser diodes, laser diode drivers, fiber optics. Their Web site includes an on-line catalog and laser diode search facility by manufacturer, type, power, wavelength, etc. for most of the laser diodes in the universe (not just those they sell.) Searching with no parameters specified displays all available laser diodes, and there are a huge number of them! Detailed specifications are then just a mouse click away.
Laser subsystems for biotechnology, industrial process control, measurement, graphics and printing, and semiconductor equipment, 980 nm pump lasers and related products. HeNe lasers and laser components.
DPSS lasers, non-linear optics, crystals, appears to be distributor for CASIX (above).
Manufacturer of laser diode drivers and thermoelectric control products.