Public Lab Research note

Zapping Grand Isle Coffee: Team Orca and the green laser

by eustatic | August 01, 2013 19:53 01 Aug 19:53 | #8955 | #8955

What I want to do

Per Jeff's repeated suggestion, I zapped the two dilutions of Grand Isle Tar Balls in mineral oil with a green lazer.

These samples were prepared with the help of Courtney Kearney.

My attempt and results

real quick, here are pictures. the x100 dilution still looks green.

x10 dilution looks a different color, though.

Questions and next steps

It attenuates the laser, yes?


This looks great! Now, the tough part -- detecting enough light to get a spectrum. If you let the sample settle for a few days, does it look more clear, less muddy?

I'm not sure about attenuating the laser, but it definitely excites the petroleum in the sample, causing it to fluoresce in red or orange. Check out this test we did where we were actually able to detect the fluorescing oil in a sample, with a very similar setup to you:

Perhaps we need a better camera in the spectrometer, though, like Chris F's Ebert. Another approach might be to use some filter material which blocks green light, so that we only see the fluorescing light, not the source laser light... that way we can get a clearer signal without the green blowing out the exposure.

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