Learn How to Levitate Diamonds with a Laser Pointer

YouTube host styropyro shows you how to build a laser beam that can lift particles for under $50.
Jessica Miley

Dust off that red laser pointer you filed in 2005. It finally has an actual use. Levitating diamonds. Yes, that’s right you can use a cheap laser pointer to build your own Star Wars Tractor Beamesque device. All you need to know is in this video from YouTube host Styropyro, aka Drake Anthony. Anthony does a very thorough job of explaining the entire experiment including parts. He bought almost everything he needed for the task from eBay managing to keep the costs below $50 USD.

Anthony admits, he isn’t breaking any new scientific ground here, the science community has understood the ability of lasers to carry objects in their momentum for some decades. In fact, in 1997, physicist Steven Chu won the Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on lasers and their carrying capacity. But the ability to physically realize these experiments in your own house is really cool.

The trickiest part of the experiment you'll need to deal with is finding a place in the house that has no air currents. Even small amounts of current have the ability to blow the lightweight particles out of the laser beam.

Anthony is really good at going into the nitty gritty detail of how this actually works, including some impressive math. We recommend you to watch the whole thing to get a grasp on the science behind it, but in a nutshell, the effect of a beam of light being able to carry an object is called Optical levitation. When the momentum of photons is transferred to an object, it becomes trapped in its beam of light.