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Laser Pointer Buying Guide

Overview

A laser is a device that emits light through a process of optical amplification based on the stimulated emission of electromagnetic radiation. The term "laser" originated as an acronym for "light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation". A laser differs from other sources of light in that it emits light coherently. Spatial coherence allows a laser to be focused to a tight spot, enabling applications such as laser cutting and lithography. Spatial coherence also allows a laser beam to stay narrow over great distances (collimation), enabling applications such as laser pointers. Lasers can also have high temporal coherence, which allows them to emit light with a very narrow spectrum, i.e., they can emit a single color of light. Temporal coherence can be used to produce pulses of light as short as a femtosecond.

Amongst their many applications, lasers are used in optical disk drives, laser printers, and barcode scanners; fiber-optic and free-space optical communication; laser surgery and skin treatments; cutting and welding materials; military and law enforcement devices for marking targets and measuring range and speed; and laser lighting displays in entertainment.

What Wavelength Goes With a Laser?

Our eyes are sensitive to light which lies in a very small region of the electromagnetic spectrum labeled "visible light". This "visible light" corresponds to a wavelength range of 400 - 700 nanometers (nm) and a color range of violet through red. The human eye is not capable of "seeing" radiation with wavelengths outside the visible spectrum. The visible colors from shortest to longest wavelength are: violet, blue, green, yellow, orange, and red. Ultraviolet radiation has a shorter wavelength than the visible violet light. Infrared radiation has a longer wavelength than visible red light. The white light is a mixture of the colors of the visible spectrum. Black is a total absence of light.
Most of the lasers we offer are in or near the visible spectrum, light the human eyes can detect and see. The table below shows the color, wavelength range, and the common wavelengths associated with our lasers.
Laser Color    Wavelength Range    Wavelengths Associated with Lasers
Violet 380nm - 445nm 405nm
Blue 445nm-495nm 445nm, 450nm
Green 495nm - 570nm 515nm, 520nm, 532nm
Yellow 570nm - 590nm  
Orange 590nm - 620nm  
Red 620nm - 750nm 635nm, 650nm, 660nm
Infrared 750nm - 1mm 808nm, 980nm

Brightness & Output Power

Many customers have the same concern "Is this laser bright enough?". While this is a subjective question, green lasers do appear brighter, are more clearly visible in darkness compared to other lasers, and is the best selling type of laser. The simple answer to why green lasers are brighter is because the human eye is most sensitive to this wavelength, specifically 555nm in daylight and 507nm in darkness. You may ask "Is that mean it is more powerful since it is bright?" If they have the same wavelength, the answer is yes, but if they have different wavelength, the answer is no.

The power output is the amount of power or energy a laser emits. Most lasers can be measured in milliWatts (mW), and some higher powered models are measured in Watts (W). Generally speaking, the higher the power output, the brighter and more capable a laser is of burning. This assumption is true if you compare lasers of the same wavelength and model. However, this assumption quickly falls apart when different wavelengths and models are compared. For example,the 100mW and 300mW green Handheld Series lasers,our general assumption that the higher power output laser is brighter and more capable stands true. The 300mW green Handheld Series is much brighter and more capable and faster at completing an action such as cutting electrical tape or lighting a match. But if we compare a 100mW green Laser Pointer Series with a 300mW violet Handheld Series, the green laser will be much brighter due to our eye’s sensitivity to green. However, as the 300mW violet Handheld Series has higher power output, it’s the more capable laser.

Beam & Visibility

1.Beam Diameter
The beam diameter is the diameter or width of a laser beam at measured at aperture usually in millimeters (mm). It plays an important role in brightness and capability. The smaller you’re able to focus the end spot, the more powerful or capable it is of burning. This can be compared in our focusable laser pointers which are beam focusable lasers.
2.Beam Divergence
The beam divergence is the angular measure, in milli-radians (mRad), of the increase in beam diameter with distance from the aperture. A beam divergence of zero would mean the laser beam never increases in beam diameter as it travels outwards. While this would be ideal, it is not physically possible. Generally speaking, lasers with beam divergence between 1-3mRad are acceptable.

3.Visibility
A laser beam, even the most powerful laser pointers, is not visible under direct sunlight. Regardless of what other vendors tell you, this is not possible. The laser spot, or the end dot is visible, but never the laser beam. In order for a laser beam to be visible outdoors, it’ll require some type of shade away sunlight. For higher powered lasers, you maybe able to see a faint laser beam during a muggy day or during dust or dawn.
Most of laser beam is visible at night or in darkness. The green laser has amazing performance at night, even the lowest powered green lasers will have visible laser beams in darkness.Please see the table below covering laser beam visibility in darkness for various wavelengths of our laser pointers.
                     5mW                      30-50mW              80-100mW                      >150mW
Violet  No beam  Faint beam  Faint/Nice beam  Nice beam
Blue  Faint beam  Nice beam  Awesome beam  Wicked beam
Green  Faint beam  Nice beam  Awesome beam  Wicked beam
Red  No beam  Faint beam  Nice beam  Nice beam
4.How to find the focus
We offer focsuable laser pointers which have a focus-adjustable lens, you can twist is and adjust the laser beam. As you see in the piture below, the focal point of a laser, is where the beam diameter is smallest and also where a laser is most capable!

Laser Applications

The first use of lasers in the daily lives of the general population was the supermarket barcode scanner, introduced in 1974. The laser disc player, introduced in 1978, was the first successful consumer product to include a laser but the compact disc player was the first laser-equipped device to become common, beginning in 1982 followed shortly by laser printers.
Some other uses are:
Medicine: Bloodless surgery, laser healing, surgical treatment, kidney stone treatment, eye treatment, dentistry.
Industry: Cutting, welding, material heat treatment, marking parts, non-contact measurement of parts.
Military: Marking targets, guiding munitions, missile defence, electro-optical countermeasures (EOCM), alternative to radar, blinding troops.
Law enforcement: used for latent fingerprint detection in the forensic identification field.
Research: Spectroscopy, laser ablation, laser annealing, laser scattering, laser interferometry, lidar, laser capture microdissection, fluorescence microscopy.
Product development/commercial: laser printers, optical discs (e.g. CDs and the like), barcode scanners, thermometers, laser pointers, holograms, bubblegrams.
Laser lighting displays: Laser light shows.
Cosmetic skin treatments: acne treatment, cellulite and striae reduction, and hair removal.
We have a lot of laser pointers for choice, if you are looking for a laser for pointing purpose, we suggest you can choose our pen series lasers,especially green lasers which is bright. If you need for Industry, Medicine and Research, you can choose our flashlight shape or portable laser pointers.

Laser Safety

A major concern about the use of a laser is the potential hazard it can cause to the eyes. A direct exposure to a laser beam can cause flash blindness, afterimage, glare, and even more serious injuries. Even a lower power laser pointer can be potentially dangerous if handheld improperly. Below are some safety tips for using a high powered laser:
1. Avoid direct or indirect contact with the eye or skin.
2. Always point the laser away from you and anyone around you.
3. Do not point the laser at reflective surfaces such as a mirror or window. A reflected laser beam can be potentially hazardous to your eyes.
4. Do not look at diffused reflections without proper laser safety glasses especially against a white or light colored background. Our violet and blue lasers emit light near ultraviolet which can cause photochemical damange, reduce exposure if possible.
5. Never view a laser pointer using an optical instrument, such as binocular or a microscope.
6. Do not allow children to operate a laser even if supervised.
7. Remove the batteries when you are no longer working with the laser, this will prevent the laser from being accidentally activated. For Handheld and Portable Series lasers, make sure to keep the laser locked if you are no longer working with the laser.
8. Do not point a laser at moving motor vehicles or aircrafts. This will cause momentary blindness to the driver or pilot putting potential hundreds of passengers at risk. Pointing a laser at an aircraft is illegal in the United States and considered a felony.
9. Wear laser safety glasses when working with a laser.