We may see laser flashlights someday!

DoubleA

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No, I'm not talking about laser pointers here.

I was just reading an article in Popular Mechanics magazine (July/Aug. 2014) on page 68 where a car is said to have "laser headlights", and describes how they work, indicating that they are 30% more efficient than LEDs. It made me wonder if this design could be used in flashlights someday.

Here's a related article about that car and it's headlights: http://jalopnik.com/how-bmws-new-laser-headlights-will-work-and-not-kill-y-1521586271
 

abarth_1200

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I'm surprised BMW is willingly giving up their secret, however it might be a lot more openly known in the world of headlight technology so not a big problem.

Great idea, not sure how to make it compact enough to fit inside a torch sized product and how portable the power supply would be. And they still rely on prosper creating the white light.
 

PhotonWrangler

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Interesting article, although it bugs me whenever I see an article that uses the term "phosphorous" when they really mean "phosphors." They are two entirely different things.
 

Fluffy Ops

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I'm wondering if the phosphorus coating on the final layer of glass the laser passes through will be consumed after lengthy use? In other words, if the yellow phosphorus-coated headlight glass will lose its light-emitting properties after repeated usage?


Interesting article, although it bugs me whenever I see an article that uses the term "phosphorous" when they really mean "phosphors." They are two entirely different things.

I believe they do mean phosphorus (a chemical that has light-emitting properties upon excitement) - phosphor is a luminescent substance (glow-in-the-dark).
 

idleprocess

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BMW's efficiency likely rests on the premise that such a system will require fewer loss-inducing optics in order to produce a beam that complies with the detailed regulations for motor vehicle lighting around the world as opposed to simple electrical efficiency. Otherwise, blue laser diodes seem to be <30% efficient while blue LED is >50% efficient... both pumping similar phosphors.

You can get a laser flashlight right now if it pleases you.
 

NobleX13

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I am worried about the theft rate on these new laser headlights. Between the laser enthusiast market harvesting diodes from these, and the high price that replacement laser headlights will surely command, I don't see this ending well. Does anyone know what the wattage output of these will be?
 

WalkIntoTheLight

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I am worried about the theft rate on these new laser headlights. Between the laser enthusiast market harvesting diodes from these, and the high price that replacement laser headlights will surely command, I don't see this ending well. Does anyone know what the wattage output of these will be?

Ramp the laser output up to a few thousand watts to act as a theft deterrent when the car alarm goes off. It's tough to steal when you have no arms!
 

Fireclaw18

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No, I'm not talking about laser pointers here. I was just reading an article in Popular Mechanics magazine (July/Aug. 2014) on page 68 where a car is said to have "laser headlights", and describes how they work, indicating that they are 30% more efficient than LEDs. It made me wonder if this design could be used in flashlights someday. Here's a related article about that car and it's headlights: http://jalopnik.com/how-bmws-new-laser-headlights-will-work-and-not-kill-y-1521586271

Already here.

Wickedlasers sells an adapter than turns a laser into a flashlight. It's composed of a diffraction grating that's placed in front of the laser beam. I assume a blue laser is used, to produce blue light. On top of the diffraction grating is yellow phosphor which emits the red and green light, just like the yellow phosphor on a white LED. The grating and phosphor is at the bottom of an aluminum reflector that focuses the beam. They advertise 500 lumens out of a 1W laser.

I haven't seen any flashlights that are designed from the ground-up based on lasers. I suspect there could be legal and safety issues with such a device. Someone could disassemble the head revealing the class IV laser inside. Many countries, such as the USA, would likely prohibit laser flashlights becauase of this. This means the market for laser flashlights would be a lot smaller than that forLED flashlights, and the liability risks would be much greater.

LEDs aren't as efficient as lasers, but they won't have the legal issues high-powered lasers pose.
 
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