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Is this the next step towards a real-life lightsaber?

A DIY laser enthusiast has created an ultra-powerful hand-held laser "lightsaber" that can burn through small objects.


(Screenshot by Michelle Starr/CNET Australia)

A DIY laser enthusiast has created an ultra-powerful hand-held laser "lightsaber" that can burn through small objects.

There are a few key differences between 17-year-old Drake Anthony's gadget and an actual lightsaber. For one, Anthony's "lightsaber" has a laser blade rather than plasma, and its length isn't clearly defined. For another, it doesn't really cut through things cleanly — but it sure produces a lot of heat.

At a massive 3000 milliwatts, the blue laser is the most powerful handheld laser that the self-described "laser guy" has ever used. Clad inside a modified Sirius-1 host is a nine-millimetre 450-nanometre laser diode — the kind found in DLP projectors — powered by a pair of high-power 18650 lithium-ion batteries — usually used in laptops.

Anthony is well aware of the differences. "I usually try to refrain from using the term 'lightsaber' when referring to my lasers but there really isn't much else out there to describe this laser," he said on YouTube. We'd agree that his laser is pretty close.

In the video below, you can see Anthony testing the laser against a variety of objects — flash paper, cardboard, even a ping pong ball. He can even use it to make a solar-powered toy car roll across the floor.

Anthony has been working with lasers for about five years now — since he was 12 years old — and even he doesn't feel entirely comfortable with the power of the thing. "To be honest I don't even like handheld lasers this strong, but I knew my subscribers would like this!" he said, also noting, "This laser is legal to own in the US, and I wore goggles while shooting this video."

According to local federal law, though, any hand-held laser higher than one milliwatt is banned from importation, so we won't be seeing lightsabers here any time soon.