How to Diffuse a Laser Beam

Never point a laser pointer at your face or stare directly into the beam.
••• laser pen and its tips image by timur1970 from Fotolia.com

When a beam of light is shone onto a smooth, metallic surface such as a mirror, it is reflected and leaves the surface as a coherent beam traveling at the same angle, on the same plane, but in the opposite direction. This phenomenon, called specular reflection, occurs because the surface of the material is not absorbing the light -- the beam simply turns in a new direction. When a beam hits a surface that has an irregular texture, the beam is absorbed, reflected and scattered. This kind of scattering of light is called diffusion.

    Crumple the sheets of paper and foil.

    Lay the paper and foil side-by-side on a tabletop.

    Turn off the lights.

    Shine the laser pointer onto the aluminum foil; this is the incident beam.

    Squeeze the bottle of baby powder quickly to release a fine cloud of dust.

    Observe the light as it is reflected off the dust.

    Repeat the procedure, this time aiming the laser beam at the white paper.

    Experiment with different surfaces to see which materials produce the best diffusion.

    Things You'll Need

    • Laser pointer
    • White paper
    • Aluminum foil
    • Baby powder

    Warnings

    • Do not shine the laser beam into your eyes.

      Do not stare directly at the laser pointer.

Related Articles

How is Light Transmitted?
What Is Diffused Light?
Science Experiments With Prisms
How to Measure Sugar Content With a Laser Pointer
How to Make a Visible Laser Beam
How to Convert Lux to Candela
Light-Dispersion Experiments for Kids
Prisms Experiments
How to Create a Prism
How to Make Rainbows With Prisms
Why is Quinine Fluorescent?
What Causes the Dispersion of White Light?
How to Calibrate a Spectrometer
What Is Nadph in Photosynthesis?
How to Use Planck's Constant
How Do Prisms Work
How to Convert Nanometers to Joules
Test Your Knowledge on Middle School Science
What Is the Function of the Pellicle?

Dont Go!

We Have More Great Sciencing Articles!