Lightsabers are the most sacred weapons in the Star Wars universe and only a handful can yield the power. It could cut through metal and slice the aliens. But while it was science-fiction, the idea did generate popularity among enthusiasts who tried to replicate the device into functioning prototypes.
But with engineering challenges, most of them met with difficulties until now. A popular YouTuber, who is also an engineer by profession, and his team have built probably the world's first functioning plasma-based lightsaber that burns at over 4000° Fahrenheit or around 2200° Celsius.
The YouTuber, named James Hobson, who is known to his over 10 million followers as "the Hacksmith" works on technology and devices that are found in sci-fi and fantasy movies and comics. In the past, he and his team had developed Iron Man's working gloves, Thor's hammer Mjölnir, Captain America's shield and even a Tesla Cybertruck look-alike among others.
Lightsaber, A Real Challenge
However, building a working prototype of a lightsaber proved to be more difficult with technological limitations. While Jedis' lightsabers were cordless, technological limitations in the real-world meant, Hobson and his team — Dave Bonhoff, Darryl Sherk and Ian Hillier — couldn't make that happen. Instead, he came up with a possible solution.
"Theories say that plasma is best held in a beam by a magnetic field, which, scientifically, checks out. The issue is producing a strong enough electromagnetic field to contain a blade, well the lightsaber would have to be quite literally built inside a box coated in electromagnets, which turns it into a kind of useless science project," Hobson says in the video.
The solution was liquid petroleum gas (LPG) or propane. When mixed with oxygen, it could produce a superheated plasma beam through a laminar flow that allows liquid to flow smoothly. While laminar flow nozzles exist in specialized industries, it comes at a hefty price tag of $4,000. Hobson went ahead anyway. But the casing that will house the beam was developed in-house.
How to Make It Retractable?
In their previous attempts, Hobson and his team developed a lightsaber, especially the Kylo Ren or Darth Vader's red one. But had to use a metal core. While it looked the same, it didn't bring authenticity. This time, the team had to make it retractable to make it relatively authentic.
Thus, they came up with the idea of making a custom circuit board that would be able to control the flow of the gas at a press of a button, making the beam retractable. With a propane cylinder at a custom backpack and a computer to control the flow, all Hacksmith needed was to make the colors of the lightsaber.
That was not very difficult. In the Star Wars universe, crystals changed the colors of the lightsabers. But in the real-world, chemical reaction with propane's heat with certain compounds could change the color. To get the yellow color of Rey Skywalker's lightsaber, they added sodium chloride or salt. For Yoda and Luke Skywalker's green, they added boric acid while for Peerce's amber, they used calcium chloride. Lastly, for Darth Vader and Sith lords' red beam, Hacksmith used strontium chloride, Daily Mail reported.
So far, Hacksmith retractable lightsaber video has been watched over 11 million times, making it the channel's one of the most popular videos of all time. And, of course, the followers of the Canadian YouTuber were pretty happy with the achievement.