Nd-YAG Laser Reacting to Candle Flame

The Nd:YAG laser in the G2 lab at Clemson is a very high powered pump laser.  Each pulse from the laser pumps 500 millijoules of energy in just 10 nanoseconds.  This means each pulse is 50 million watts.  While the laser is used to pump a dye laser which will be used to excite atoms and molecules, an experiment was performed to see how the laser beam would interact with a candle flame.

Above is a picture taken of the flame of the candle.  The CCD camera used takes black and white pictures.  To get this picture output, the picture was loaded into Matlab to get the color scaling shown in the above picture.  The color scaling corresponds to how much light the camera receives in each pixel.  As seen, the flame generates a lot of light and glows red in the scaled picture.  When the Nd:YAG laser is turned on, the beam travels directly through the center of the flame.

The above picture shows the influence of the laser beam.  The laser hits the right side of the flame and forces it to the left.  Also the impact of the laser causes bursts of light that illuminate the entire room.  These bursts can be seen by the splashing effect of the light in the picture.