Laser technology has come a long way since its theoretical conception during the 1800s. Understanding the nuances of laser light and physics as a whole is an ongoing science with today’s advances in the field looking to the quantum realm. But for the research community and the general public, there is still much to be discovered in this relatively new scientific field.
Take visible light lasers, the most common variety used by everyday people for things like presentations, astronomy stargazing, scientific experiments, laser burning, and more. Sure we can see the actual laser point and even beam with our own eyes, but why are some colors more visible than others? What makes green laser light better than red or blue and purple for visibility purposes? What about laser burning abilities? Read on for a better understanding of visible beam lasers.
Understanding the Visible Light Spectrum
All visible and invisible light (ultraviolet and infrared) existing in the universe falls into the electromagnetic spectrum. But the visible light spectrum (Source: NASA) is a short portion of that range which we can see with the naked human eye. Things like: green grass, blue sky, red apples, purple grapes; think of the rainbow or a prism or even an OLED tv screen with all of its visible color profiles. Human beings can typically see a wavelength range from 380nm to 700nm (NM: Nanometers).
Our eyes have evolved to act as calibrated receivers that accept and interpret this narrow band of light. Some wavelengths within the visible light spectrum appear brighter or more robust than other colors. Knowing this is a critical piece of information to consider when looking to buy a laser pointer online.
Beam Color vs. Visibility
Knowing how bright a particular laser is will depend on a few different factors. Generally speaking:
- Green laser light at 532nm is 5x-7x brighter than any other laser color at the same power.
Sensitivity in our eyes peaks around the green light wavelengths. So a 500mW green laser will be brighter than a 500mW 445nm blue, 650nm red, or 405nm purple laser. Green laser light is therefore ideal for outdoor daytime use at powers exceeding 300mW. If you are looking for a goose control laser, be sure you do not go with less than 300mW of green laser light. As a rule, the higher the power the better for outdoor geese deterrence.
- Green laser light has more scatter in the atmosphere, making it better for astronomy and pointing out constellations in the night sky.
Light scattering gives you a more visible beam, and this is ideal for pointing out particular bodies in the sky at night time. You can surely use other beam colors for astronomy but green is generally superior for visualization purposes.
Beam Color vs. Laser Burning Ability
Conversely to its importance for lasers visibility, color plays no critical role when considering laser’s burning ability.
- mW strength is the only important factor regarding beams burning ability. You need a minimum of 300mW of power to do things like light matches, pop balloons, light a fuse, and more.
For this reason, any color laser is good at higher powers. So blue laser pointers make for the best burning lasers around. Considering most blue lasers range from 1000mW to 5000mW and you need 300mW for burning ability, it’s no mystery to see why they’d be ideal. A 3,000mW Blue laser is 10X stronger than a 300mW one and therefore 10x better for burning experiments.
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