Magnetic Optical Bench

laser mounted on lantern battery with binder clip and magnet

Build a flexible, inexpensive optical bench for laser pointers.



Laser pointers can be held in binder clips. The legs of the binder clips can then be used to mount the laser pointers above a table surface. In addition magnets can be used to attach the binder clips to iron or steel mounts. The lasers can then be rotated and moved easily.


A laser pointer
2 Binder clips large enough to grab the laser pointer
A refrigerator magnet
A rectangular object made of, or covered with, steel (such as a dead 6 volt lantern battery.)


Place the laser in one or two binder clips.
Rotate the laser in the clips so that the binder clips squeezes the button and turns the laser on.
Place a refrigerator magnet between the binder clip base and the steel object.See the photo below.
The magnet should hold the laser and clip in place, if it does not, get a bigger or stronger magnet..

Optional: Use the legs of two binder clips to hold the laser off the table top as shown below.

laser mounted in two binder clips

To Do and Notice

Notice that you can easily translate and rotate the laser.

When you position the laser and then let go, it remains solidly in place.

What's Going On?

Standard optical bench technology uses magnets to hold optical components in place.
Magnets allow the components to be moved and yet hold them in place when they are released.


Activities which use the optical bench are

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© 1999

21 Feb 99