A large thread developed discussing 405nm laser pointers and their use with fluorescent minerals. The text content is copied below. The original thread can be found here. Most of the names mentioned are probably still in the group and will likely answer any questions.
July 24, 2015
Laser pointers. Looking for a 405nm version to help my daughter and me with the hobby. Awhile back, there was some good advice on them and a couple of companies were mentioned: Lazerpoint and WickedLaser. Unfortunately, WickedLaser appears out of stock and Lazerpoint's website crashes when trying to order. Both seem to get pummeled for their poor customer service as well. Any domestic suppliers, or suppliers at all, that you can suggest? Any specific pointers you've had good luck with? Thanks for the help!
Mark Cole I've ordered Chinese junk off Ebay with mixed results. But they're cheap enough that I don't care too much (which is just what the China sellers are counting on - I just leave them neg feedback). Most of the sellers are selling rejects I believe...
July 24, 2015 at 1:16pm · Like
Mark Cole I have this one, but much higher power (200mw) - recently the import rules have gotten stricter I believe. Have had good luck with DealExtreme: http://www.dx.com/.../5mw-405nm-zooming-dot-gypsophila...
5mW 405nm Zooming Dot + Gypsophila Blue-Violet Laser Pointer - Black (1 x…
July 24, 2015 at 1:37pm · Like · Remove Preview
Mark Cole Have also ordered from these folks, but not the laser: (I don't believe them when they say 5 watts) http://www.dhgate.com/.../405nm-1000mw.../188357800.html...
July 24, 2015 at 1:40pm · Edited · Like
Doug Bank Also got mine on eBay for maybe $3. Bought 3 because it doesn't hurt as much to lose them. Not super quality, but you car more about the light than the beam focus.
July 24, 2015 at 2:17pm · Like
Mark Cole Personally I prefer to be able to defocus the beam. Laser beams can reflect off the shiny faces of crystals into someone's eyes - not a nice thing to do at shows where a bunch of folks are looking at specimens. Slightly defocusing the beam takes care of that, but still will fluoresce lots of minerals
July 24, 2015 at 2:28pm · Like
Doug Bank Never seen one like that. Some of the ones I bought were "naturally" out of focus. Not great for demonstrating the beam split inside island spar, but otherwise fine.
July 24, 2015 at 2:31pm · Like
Steve Hutchcraft Thanks Mark and Doug! Hadn't heard of DHGate before, will give it a go. A 5 watt laser in the hand of an 8 year old? Might look for one that won't burn through rock, glass, skin, etc.
July 24, 2015 at 5:26pm · Like
Richard David Armstrong Right Steve, don't need a death ray for exciting minerals.
July 24, 2015 at 5:57pm · Like
Steve Hutchcraft My head is spinning. . . .so many options from 5 milli watt to 5 watt. Lots of questions about ratings and real power. My daughter and I collect mostly during the day, especially during the summer (bedtime strictly enforced by mom). Hoping to use a las...See More
July 24, 2015 at 6:26pm · Like
Mark Cole A laser is woefully inadequate for field collecting. Sure, it'll light up calcite, but most of the more exciting minerals won't fluoresce. And that 5 watt rating is most likely a language issue - pretty sure he means 5mw. I use it at shows for calcite and fluorite (many just don't fluoresce and it helps me pick the ones that do). But would not rely on it in the field.
July 24, 2015 at 7:24pm · Like
Steve Schaut A couple years ago was when I got the Wicked Lasers 405 Nano. The driver sucks on this 75mw unit but I struggle with it and get the shots that work...for manganese calcite and chalcedony, and corundum esp. var. ruby. Looks like Wicked Lasers simply wil...See More
July 24, 2015 at 7:42pm · Like
Mark Cole Tugtupite fluoresces a salmon color under LW, and 405nm causes a nice bright salmon color (and phosphorescence occasionally
July 24, 2015 at 8:04pm · Like · 1
Steve Hutchcraft Steve and Mark, thanks. Someone mentioned awhile back that surprisingly, a 405nm laser does light up some SW/MW fluorescing rocks, so I thought it might make some sense. We're headed back East to Franklin/Sterling and was hoping to find something that can help us find some wheat through the chaff. Knowing my daughter, she's not going to have the patience to sit under a grill cover for very long. . . . .
July 24, 2015 at 8:06pm · Like · 1
Cilff Jackson Just got one 5mW. Will light up Tugtupite, Wernerite, Sodalite,
July 24, 2015 at 8:55pm · Like
Cilff Jackson Fluorite, Chalcedony some of the Calcite. This is in the dark and you have to get close, under 3". What daylight checking I done you have to be almost touching sample. I'm with Mark Cole not any good for daytime .
July 24, 2015 at 9:00pm · Like
Mark Cole It will draw a nice phosphorescent line in Franklin calcite, and make some willemite glow faintly. But why would you need it for that? Any piece of calcite you pick up at Franklin (Buckwheat) will glow like a banshee - no light needed to select. Worthless for anything else at Franklin though... Sorry, but ours is a nighttime hobby (or suffer under the BBQ cover - we've all paid our dues ;-) )
July 24, 2015 at 9:32pm · Like
Mark Cole (SH used to have a drakroom where you could examine specimens - do they still (anyone?)?
July 24, 2015 at 9:33pm · Like · 1
George Adleman I've used "2000" mw ones that I measured 150mw. Useful with a focusing lens de focused to make a 1" spot. When viewing through Uvex Amber glasses which blocks 405 nm, fluorescence shows up much better. 405 nm also goes through glass and most plastic so goes right through perky boxes. It's just another tool.
July 24, 2015 at 9:45pm · Edited · Like · 1
Michael Isaacson I find the 405nm 5mW laser to be of very limited use at Franklin/Sterling Hill. As Mark says, you hardly need one to tell you that the Calcite will glow red. Also, though great fun, 405nm is not useful for our hobby, really. Testing as I write, it mak...See More
July 24, 2015 at 9:50pm · Like
Steve Hutchcraft Thanks Michael, George, Mark, Cliff, et al. Personally, I have no problem paying my dues and sweating under a BBQ cover. I'm trying to figure a way for my daughter and my wife to partake and enjoy as well. Daughter is easy, wife (who is a very traditio...See More
July 24, 2015 at 10:16pm · Like
Michael Isaacson Often, when showing fluorescent minerals to newbies, I am asked, "Ok, so what do you do with them?" The answer: "You're looking at it." If your wife has any bite of the bug, make sure the tarp is big enough for three. If not, the cover will at least attenuate some of the laughing.
July 24, 2015 at 10:38pm · Like
Doug Bank I just did a little experiment, and as a result, I am going to disagree with Mark about the utility of the blue laser in field collecting. I took a classic piece of SH willemite calcite outside in the direct sunlight and ran a blue laser over the surfa...See More
July 25, 2015 at 12:08pm · Like
Doug Bank Michael, I think that the laser excites the electrons above for reasons above and beyond the actual wavelength. My experiment, for which yellow glasses are essential, reveals that it elicits a response from stuff like LLZ that is completely dead to LW. It doesn't replace the other methods, but it certainly looks like it is worth exploring more.
July 25, 2015 at 12:10pm · Like
Doug Bank Mark, I was last at SH in 2012, so things might definitely have changed. However, when I was there, the lights inside the shed were so solarized that you could barely see anything. I used the shed for darkness and the scale, but I used my own light. At...See More
July 25, 2015 at 12:21pm · Like
George Adleman A note on yellow glasses with 405nm lasers for viewing fluorescence. The glasses are to eliminate the visible blue reflection of the laser which dilutes the visible fluorescence. Not all yellow glasses block 405 nm. A simple test is to shine he laser o...See More
July 25, 2015 at 12:24pm · Like
Doug Bank BTW Cliff, these observations are all from a distance of at least 2 feet, if not more. The one outside in the direct sun was from more than 5 feet away.
July 25, 2015 at 12:25pm · Like
Mark Cole With my lasers I light up sodalite and tugtupite down at my barn (200' away). Obviously great for any LW mineral...
July 25, 2015 at 12:27pm · Like · 2
George Adleman By the way Uvex Amber is one of the best and cheapest (Amazon) yellow 405nm blocker.
July 25, 2015 at 12:28pm · Like
Doug Bank George, interesting point. I have to admit, I was actually not using yellow safety glasses as I cant find mine at the moment. I was using a Cokin A 001 yellow filter, which definitely blocks 405 as shown by your test. However, my yellow glasses pretty much worked the same way. I just never tried them in direct sunlight.
July 25, 2015 at 12:29pm · Like
George Adleman Some scheelite will fluoresce orange under 405 nm.
July 25, 2015 at 12:29pm · Like
Charles Gould Yellow glasses/filters just block some of the reflected visible blue light and reveal a truer fluorescent color response.
July 25, 2015 at 12:35pm · Like
Charles Gould Some mineral species react more under longer than long-wave radiation. e.g. petroleum included llinois fluorites.
July 25, 2015 at 12:39pm · Edited · Like
Charles Gould Lasers are a great tool for checking response and richness of fluorescent material in the field and at shows. Try looking at some fluorescent mineral inclusions in quartz etc.
July 25, 2015 at 12:39pm · Like
Michael Isaacson Doug Bank I tried it on my LLZ material and see nothing. LLZ Aragonite will respond but that's just not useful data. Last night I was able to light up Tremolite in Talc pretty well but so does the light I sell but with a beam wide enough to see the ro...See More
July 25, 2015 at 12:42pm · Like · 1
Michael Isaacson Ok, how about this: UV lasers are so damn cheap, buy one and bring it with you. If it proves useful...great, if not, you've lost nothing.
July 25, 2015 at 12:45pm · Like
Doug Bank I can see calcite phosphorescence trails with the laser and the yellow filter. I cannot see anything without the yellow filter. Noteverything glows - my halite doesn't do anything at all, but I still think it is a cheap and useful tool, certainly good enough to keep the wife from getting too bored ;-)
July 25, 2015 at 12:55pm · Like · 2
Doug Bank Michael, the blue laser is less than $20. The light you sell is 30 times that price. Yeah, that would work great, but I dont have one of those...
July 25, 2015 at 12:56pm · Like
George Adleman There are some 405nm lasers that have focus rings (to focus down to pinpoints to burn) that you can de-focus to 1" or so areas which are still bright enough to fluoresce a mineral brightly in room light. These are advertised as much greater than 5mw bu...See More
July 25, 2015 at 12:57pm · Like
Michael Isaacson Doug Bank I was just pointing out that any decent 365nm flashlight would be more useful in terms of excitation, color accuracy, and beam width. As noted earlier, they are cheap enough that let is become a tool in your collecting arsenal. I always bring mine but I never find a use for it. A defocusable laser as George mentions might prove to be a better, but still inaccurate, tool.
July 25, 2015 at 1:10pm · Like
Mark Cole Michael - no need to disagree, it's just for fun ;-) - I find it almost useless for collecting in the field, but use them at shows (and keep in mind, I collect in Greenland where most everything glows LW. But it's easier to just look at 'em in the sunlight).
July 25, 2015 at 1:20pm · Like · 1
Doug Bank Michael, the point is not accuracy. The point is figuring where to set up the grill cover next...
July 25, 2015 at 2:11pm · Unlike · 1
Michael Isaacson That's easy! You set it up where the cool, glowing rocks are!
July 25, 2015 at 9:12pm · Like
Wim Bruines 5mw is considered to be save enough. Even when you exidently look into the beam. Lots of them @http://www.dx.com/s/405nm+laserpointer
405nm laserpointer - Free Shipping - DX
Model 200281 Quantity 1 Color Black Material Aluminum alloy Laser color Blue-Violet Laser Power…
July 26, 2015 at 12:25am · Like · Remove Preview
Steve Hutchcraft Thanks to everybody for the great conversation, wouldn't have expected such a response. Long and the short, seems like worth picking up on, especially as the price point is so low. To Doug's point, might be fun for mom while dad and daughter are under the tarp/grille cover.
July 26, 2015 at 9:19am · Like
Michael Isaacson Important comment: No laser is safe when directly shined into the eye, especially a deep blue/UV. The pupil will not autonomically react and close up as much as it would for light that is more visible to humans.Lasers are all dangerous.
July 26, 2015 at 9:26am · Like
Mark Cole A lot of good comments and opinions here. I think I will archive this discussion for future reference.
July 26, 2015 at 10:31am · Like
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