Updated: 060110 - Views:
All content copyright © 1999-2009, B Vanderkolk

Welcome to my picture gallery. I have many pictures of my lasers in operation, but here are some of my favorites. This page has several images so it may take a while to load.

It's been a while, several years in fact, since I took these pictures. I've moved twice since then and sold some of the lasers. I still have the nice Omnichrome 532 though!!!! That's my baby. :) I don't play with my lasers as much as I used too but I still keep up on the technology and continue to participate in alt.laser and sci.optics.

All images are copyright and are watermarked. Please don't borrow them without permission.

Perform Your Own Two-Slit Diffraction Demonstration
I put together a little photo essay showing a simple way you can perform the famous two-slit intereference experiement with your laser using nothign more than some stuff you may already have around the house and a little ingenuity. Just follow the link and you'l be taken to a seperate page.

2 Color HeNe Pics!!!
The following four pictures are some shots of a very unique occurrence. I was goofing around with my HeNe laser and two argons in a fairly successful attempt at using some pieces of broken dichro mirror I have to mix the three beams into a white light beam. After I managed to get the near and far fields fairly close I decided to see how the colors spread after diffracting off my diffraction grating. Not only did I see the expected red, green, and blue dots on my garage wall, but I also saw a slightly deeper and dimmer red next to the main HeNe spot. I was amazed to find that my HeNe was suddenly lasing on two lines simultaneously!!! Considering the separation of the two lines and the distinctly deeper hue I conclude that the second line was at 640.1 nm. This line typically has a gain of about 10% of 632.8 and the mirrors are usually coated so as to only allow 632.8 to lase anyway. Well apparently I got lucky! This is really an exciting thing as this laser has never done this before. Of course once I realized what was happening I grabbed my digital camera and took some pics to capture this historical and rare moment. I hope you enjoy seeing this as much as I did.

Here's a shot of my homemade wooden breadboard setup. The two argon heads are on the left and the HeNe head is in the middle. To the right are several mirrors and dichro's on homemade wood mounts. I used wood as I have lots of it and the tools to work it at my disposal. I will graduate to aluminum as soon as I gather the necessary tools to work with it.
Here's a close-up shot of my dichro's on their mounts. At the top is a piece of wood acting as a beam block to catch some reflected HeNe light as that particular dichro isn't totally transparent at 632.8 nm. The second dichro is just to the right of center. Just in front of the HeNe is a salvaged variable density filter used to help control color balance. At the top right is my badly beaten but still functional diffraction grating.
And now the moment of truth. This picture is of the far wall of my garage where I was projecting the diffracted laser light. There are actually 5 spots in this picture. Starting on the left is a blue argon line at 458 nm and just to the right is a weak spot at 472.7nm. The argon that was tuned for blue was not tuned precisely enough to only lase at the one color. Next is the green argon line at 514 nm. Then way to the right is the HeNe's spot at 632.8 and just to the right of that and barely visible in this picture is the rogue 640.1 nm line.
Here's a close-up shot of the wall with the "white light" beam shone off my diffraction grating. The 640.1 nm rogue line form the HeNe is more clearly visible in this picture. You may notice the extra blue-green line to the left is gone. I had retuned that laser before I took this picture.

These are just some 'pretty pictures'.
This is a picture of my wood breadboard. When I was just starting in this laser stuff as a hobby and only had HeNe's and having just learned about all the optics equipment available, I found out about optical tables and breadboards. I also found out how much they cost!!! Well, since I had some pieces of really hard wood, I decided to put some of my wood working tools to work and make myself a simple breadboard. I drilled holes on 1 inch centers using a small drill press. Items are generally mounted using wood screws or whatever fits. You can also see one of my home made wooden adjustable mirror mounts. There are three lasers on the table, a 10mw max HeNe on an adjustable jig made of wood used for assisting in aligning the mirrors on the argons. The far argon is a Spectra Physics 162 tuned to the 528.7 nm green line and the other is an SP-162a tuned to the 437 nm blue line. You can just see the red beam of the HeNe and the green beam of the far argon.
This is the same setup as the picture above except with the lights off. There is haze in the room from my working but incomplete hazer. The digital camera just doesn't do the image justice. There's no beating being able to see these things in action in person.
Here's a shot looking towards the three laser beams as they are projected towards the camera. Haze in the room helped make the beams visible as I had to keep the power low on the argons to keep from popping my circuit breakers. I live in an older house with really old wiring. Scary!!! This picture came out pretty good.
In this shot I've replaced the two Spectra Physics argons with my Omnichrome 532 multiline argon. Not too much to see really except to notice the light blue color of the multiline output from the laser. In this image the argon was idling at only 3 lines.
Now here's a beautiful shot of the HeNe hitting a small bounce mirror and the Omni 532 multiline argon being reflected towards the camera off of a diffraction grating. The argon is putting out 7 lines at full tilt. The dim line going horizontally to the left of the grating is the non diffracted order from the grating. Lots of haze in the garage plus having the camera only inches from the beam path helped make this a spectacular shot. Notice how the HeNe's red beam is saturated by the camera and turned yellow.

his image has been used with permission on the cover of Radiative Heat Transfer, 2nd Ed. by Michael Modest. See it at Amazon.com.