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Bending laser light, with a bang

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Reshawna Maine

Fans of The Big Bang Theory may have noticed a coil of purple light integrated into character Leonard’s europium laser, which appeared in a recent episode, “The Meteorite Manifestation.”

While there is some science behind Leonard’s theoretical laser — europium-doped plastic is used as laser material — Leonard’s replica does not contain actual europium. The purple coil, however, is real science; it’s a pair of linked RGB Laser Light Charge & Sync Cables.

Johnny Galecki, as Leonard, with his europium laser on the hit sitcom The Big Bang Theory, Season 12, Episode 14. “The Meteorite Manifestation” episode aired January 31. Courtesy of Versalume.


Johnny Galecki, as Leonard, with his europium laser on the hit sitcom The Big Bang Theory, Season 12, Episode 14. “The Meteorite Manifestation” episode aired January 31. Courtesy of Versalume.


Designed by California-based Versalume, the cables feature Corning’s patented Fibrance Light-Diffusing Fiber technology, which is a very thin and highly flexible light-diffusing fiber powered by a pair of laser diodes.

Versalume develops smart, integrated products and solutions based on this fiber.

Fibrance has an optically pure glass core that diffuses light predictably and uniformly in all directions through incorporated nanostructures, resulting in a very long fiber, with a maximum length of 100 m.

Mario Paniccia, CEO of Versalume, wearing a custom laser-light hat and Versalume Wearable Module (top). The Laser Light Charge & Sync Cables used to create Leonard’s europium laser (bottom). Courtesy of Versalume.

Mario Paniccia, CEO of Versalume, wearing a custom laser-light hat and Versalume Wearable Module (top). The Laser Light Charge & Sync Cables used to create Leonard’s europium laser (bottom). Courtesy of Versalume.


Mario Paniccia, CEO of Versalume, wearing a custom laser-light hat and Versalume Wearable Module (top). The Laser Light Charge & Sync Cables used to create Leonard’s europium laser (bottom). Courtesy of Versalume.


The Fibrance fiber was an accidental discovery. Researchers at Corning were attempting to minimize loss of light in the optical fibers of another product by adjusting the refractive index of the material.

“When we added nanostructures into the inner core of the fiber instead of the cladding,” said Stephan Logunov, senior research associate at Corning, “it created a totally different effect. The light was actually scattering, or leaking, from the fiber.”

Fibrance has applications in architecture, the automotive industry, consumer electronics, wearable technology and textiles, and in art and design. It can be embedded in flooring or molding to light up a room, or it can be woven into clothing. The fibers are so slim and bendable that they can be threaded into sewing machines while maintaining consistent light transfer.

Leonard was clearly infatuated with his new laser, and consumers may soon be equally infatuated by this fun and resourceful lighting option.

Photonics Spectra
Apr 2019
Lighter Side

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