Applications of a 1mW Helium-Neon Laser

There are many uses for even a 1 mW helium-neon laser. Most of these same sorts of things can also be done with a collimated diode laser (though some laser diodes may not have the needed coherence properties for applications like interferometry and hologram generation).

Below are just a few possibilities.

(Portions from: Chris Chagaris (

  • Basic optical experimentation such demonstrating the principals of refraction, reflection, diffraction and polarization.
  • Interferometer construction: With a small laser and a few simple optics, this device will allow you to perform many interesting experiments.
  • Free-space optical communications: using some basic electronics for modulation.
  • Fiber Optic Experimentation.
  • Viewing of holograms.
  • Hologram generation: However, I’d suggest a slightly higher powered laser for this.
  • Construction of a basic laser light show. A higher power laser could be substituted when budget constraints allow. 🙂
  • Laser surveillance.
  • Laser tachometer.
  • Laser burglar alarm.
  • Laser gyroscope.
  • Studying fluid dynamics.
  • Applications in construction for calculating distance, leveling, aid in pipe laying, etc.