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By Jon Singer on March 18, 2011
TJIIRRS: Number 10 of an Ongoing Series;
Inexpensive and Readily Available Laser Dyes for the Do-It-Yourselfer
Commercial laser dyes can cost over $100 per gram, and are out of the reach of most DIY laser builders. Furthermore, most chemical companies refuse to sell to individuals these days. This page explores dyes for DIYers, with an eye toward affordability, availability, and performance. Most of these have been tested with nitrogen laser pumping, and a few have been tested with flashlamp pumping.
Although Fluorescein is often available on eBay, it is not necessarily very pure; moreover, Fluorescein is difficult to excite with a nitrogen laser because it has relatively little absorption at 337 nm. (That however, makes it an interesting candidate for longitudinal pumping.) Rhodamine 6G is occasionally available on eBay, as well. Neither of them is usually of laser-grade purity, but that certainly doesn’t prevent them from lasing.
On rare occasions, a few scintillators are available on eBay. I have managed to acquire and lase both PPO and POPOP. Those, however, are the exceptions to the rule, and they cover only part of the spectrum, so it is important to find materials that DIYers can routinely acquire and use.