If you have ever watched Star Wars and loved the iconic actions of Luke Skywalker and Master Yoda, then you must have also dreamed of having your own lightsaber and thought of the wonders you’d do with it when confronted by a worthy enemy on the street.
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But how do you build your own lightsaber to function like the one you see wielded in Star Wars?
Dr. Gianluca Sarri, a physicist at Queen’s University, Belfast examines the dynamics of constructing your own lightsaber in the light of its functions and material components. Dr. Sarri is a lecturer in the school of mathematics and physics at Queen’s University, Belfast; and his research had once dealt with lasers and plasma physics.
In his own research published in The Conversation, Dr. Sarri depicted the lightsaber as a cool weapon, but the basic concepts of constructing one is very challenging.
He noted that using a laser to build a lightsaber would be the way to go since laser produces a directional burst of light that can be very visible even from afar, but limiting the length of the laser beam to about 3 feet or 91 cm would be a great challenge.
Another problem is that the lightsaber used by the Jedi in Star Wars is capable of slicing through any material, and Dr. Sarri pointed out this cutting feat could be achieved by lasers used for welding; but this requires huge kilowatts of power and this energy level might not fit into the small hilt of a lightsaber.
And yet another problem, the lightsabers used in the film make clashing sounds when it hits another lightsaber, but how do you make this happen with laser beams that would simply pass through one another without any sounds?
The only solution Dr. Sarri has for these laser challenges for lightsaber is to use plasma instead. “Plasma is effectively gas so hot that its atoms are broken into their more fundamental components, namely electrons and nuclei,” he said.
Desired colors could be added to the beams to reflect the characters of the heroes of the Jedi Order.
Sarri explained that “the green lightsabers of Jedi knights could be made of chlorine plasma, which emits predominantly green light, while the red lightsabers of the Sith villains could be made of helium, which mostly emits in the red-to-violet region of the spectrum.”
This would require that a sizeable filament be added to the power supply embedded into the hilt of the lightsaber. The required charge will be contained in the filament which heats up to convert the gas to plasma, and its “searing heat would instantly melt any object it touches, cutting cleanly like a blade.”
But there is still a problem: how would all these components be fitted neatly into a handheld weapon like a lightsaber? And how does a person bearing a lightsaber be protected from another individual wielding the same weapon?
These questions show that constructing a functional lightsaber as can be seen in Star Wars requires a technology that is still far away into the future.