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Can we create a Real Star Wars Lightsaber?

May 19, 2021 7 min read

Can we create a Real Star Wars Lightsaber

Lightsabers are certainly elegant weapons for a civilized age, but at the moment they only exist in the world of science fiction. Could we use the modern technology we have today to create the most famous weapon of all time? It is legitimate to ask whether the manufacture of a real lightsaber is really possible in view of its complexity.

Given the impact of the Star Wars franchise on culture and society, it is inevitable that some of the public would seek to build a lightsaber, and even train with one. A few DIY geniuses have been able to make their mark.

Indeed, even if most of us would like to own a real lightsaber, some people take this desire more seriously than others. Several physicists and engineers have set out to fulfill the dream of millions of Star Wars fans. Did they succeed? This is what we are going to see through all the tracks exploited by those being in search of making this lightsaber.

Lightsaber Cutting a Door

What are the Characteristics of a Lightsaber in Star Wars?

  • The lightsabers produce a retractable glowing blade about 1.3 meters long, bright enough to be seen in direct sunlight. This blade is emitted by a handle that, by pressing a button, slowly spreads a beam of light that expands and stops once it reaches the registered limit.
  • They contain an enormous amount of energy as they can melt large amounts of metal quickly. An example of this can be seen in "Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace" where Qui-Gon Jinn is seen driving his lightsaber through a thick steel door.
    The latter is cut and leaves a sufficient opening since the weapon melted it. These lightsabers contain an ultra powerful energy source that is compact enough to fit in a handle of a few centimeters, it is a Kyber Crystal.
  • These luminous blades are extremely dangerous, as they regularly cut limbs in a single stroke and without effort (Anakin Skywalker was the victim in Episode III - Revenge of the Sith). However, an interesting characteristic despite their power, they are not hot enough to burn the hands of the wielder.
  • Finally, two lightsabers do not cross each other, the blades collide with each other, which gives us those spectacular lightsaber fighting techniques.

Can a real Lightsaber exist using an Ultra Powerful Laser?

Ultra Powerful Laser

At the risk of dashing the dreams of some readers and taking into account the features needed to make one. The thing seems to be well compromised...

Given its name and appearance, the first obvious thought that comes to mind when talking about a real cutting lightsaber is some sort of ultra powerful laser. Indeed, the laser produces a highly directional beam of light that can be used for everything from etching metal surfaces to eye surgery. So why not use it to fight the dark side of the force? Unfortunately, this seemingly instinctive choice is easy to dismiss since it has several difficulties.

5 major problems of a Laser to make a Real Laser Saber :

1) Create a Short Blade of Light

Probably the most fundamental problem is that the blade of a lightsaber must be able to stop at a distance of about 1 meter from the handle. However, a laser beam like any type of light never stops unless something in its path absorbs or reflects its energy. Handling the sword would therefore be extremely difficult and a real nightmare in combat.

With an infinitely large blade, you could accidentally cut a passerby or anything else you care about. One solution would be to cover the end of the blade with a mirror to confine the laser beam, but then you wouldn't be able to drive the tip into anyone. Also, building a structure to hold the mirror in place would take away from the elegance and grace of a lightsaber.

2) The Size

Producing a high-powered laser beam still requires a lot of hardware today. While some pretty amazing technological advances have made high-powered lasers smaller, you would still need a cooling system to prevent the assembly from overheating. This requirement means that it would be difficult to build a lightsaber that you could physically carry on your back.

3) The Blade's Power Supply

Lasers powerful enough to do damage require a significant amount of energy, so the sword would not work with standard batteries. Such energy stored in such a small space is currently not available. And unfortunately the Kyber crystals that power the lightsabers in the Star Wars movies are fictional and do not exist in reality.

However, the first prototypes of military laser weapons are beginning to appear, notably with the US Navy's laser cannon. But this technology is more similar to the Death Star than to our real lightsabers.

4) Problems in Lightsaber Combat

As we have seen, a laser beam is easily reflected, it would be simple for your opponent to protect himself with a mirror, or even to turn the beam of your lightsaber against you!
In addition, it would be impossible to have lightsaber blades face each other, the light beams are not strong and would simply pass through each other, making the duel impossible.

5) Visual and Sound Effects

These fictitious weapons are also famous for their characteristic noises as well as for the laser's burst of colored light. However, a laser beam cannot be seen from the side unless the air is particularly smoky or dusty. This is why lasers are always used in conjunction with smoke machines in clubs or concert halls. Like an oversized laser pointer, a lightsaber would be virtually invisible. Unless, of course, it was aimed directly into your eye, in which case it would probably be the last thing you would see.

And just as waving a torch doesn't make any noise, you guessed it, wielding your lightsaber would be silent. And let's face it, even the most famous Jedi like Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, Yoda or Obi-Wan Kenobi would look pretty pathetic wielding a silent invisible sword.

Realistic Lightsaber

In conclusion, lightsabers as depicted in Star Wars are currently not a reality with the laser technology we currently have. While advances may one day solve the power and size concerns, the fundamental problem of light beam length really complicates matters. Unless physicists have found us a more suitable solution than lasers.

Could the Lightsaber really Exist using Plasma?

Plasma Lightsaber

A more realistic and suitable technology for building a lightsaber would be plasma. Indeed, plasma is the fourth state of matter (with solids, liquids and gases), less known to others, it is commonly used in our everyday life, especially in neon lights. Perhaps by deepening this track, we will see more clearly.

Is the Plasma Cutter suitable for making a Real Lightsaber?

Plasma Cutter

Plasma cutters produce hot plasma jets that are used to cut conductive materials such as steel, aluminum or copper. However, with today's technology, a plasma cutter must be connected to a large power source of electricity. Even the most powerful plasma cutters in the world could not create a beam large enough to be comparable in size and power to a lightsaber.

In addition, other calculation errors prevent this solution :

  • Even if a plasma cutter could be turned into some sort of lightsaber, it would not function as such. A plasma lightsaber would only be a jet of fire, not a solid blade. You still wouldn't be able to duel as accurately as you do in the movies. The plasma jets would once again simply pass through each other!
  • In the history of "Star Wars the Old Republic", the first lightsabers called Proto-Sabers were powered by giant batteries carried by the user. They were connected to the hilt of the sword by a thick wire. This means that in theory, a future Jedi could exist with a real lightsaber. Nevertheless, it would be a saber whose movement is limited by a battery pack, which would therefore be a limited source of energy.

Click on the video to discover the first version of the Proto-Saber in video!

It is therefore possible to make a plasma lightsaber (or rather a proto-lightsaber). But it is not a real light saber since it does not have the properties of a solid object.

Scientists seek a way to use Magnetic Fields to make the First Laser Saber

The plasma being positively charged, researchers are currently working on a model which consists in using magnetic fields to constrain it in a defined space in order to profile a blade.

The main problem is that a plasma in a magnetic field is not particularly rigid. You would be able to create a coherent shape, but it would be impossible to use it as a weapon because the heat would be unbearable.
Also, it would be enough for your opponent to disturb the magnetic containment field with magnets to completely change its shape. This could lead to the risk of frying you completely.

To recapitulate, it would be necessary to create an innovation which allows a light beam to :

  • Extend and then stop at a recorded boundary.
  • Easily cut heavy-duty materials such as steel or stone.
  • Absorb and dampen the effects of heat and displacement of this amount of material.
  • Powered by a portable battery and tiny enough to fit in the handle.
  • Bounce off other plasma beams in some way.
  • Be available in different colors!

As you can see, there are still a lot of points to be settled. Lasers and magnetic plasma projections are not yet the right technologies to hope to achieve our goals. Taking into account these considerations and the added limitations, we have to conclude that for the time being we will have to be satisfied with a Laser Saber with a luminous polycarbonate blade for example.

And that's just fine because we have just the thing for you! Our light and sound lightsabers are equipped with a multi-colored LED that allows you to change colors quickly. These fictitious but faithful weapons also have a built-in speaker. It plays up to 5 sound effects to immerse you in your role as a Jedi Knight or Sith Lord!

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