This “real” lightsaber built by Russian Alex Burkan looks straight out of Star Wars, and its blade is even capable of cutting through metal.
For decades, science fiction enthusiasts have sought to reproduce the famous Star Wars lightsaber as faithfully as possible. There are heaps of them today, ranging from simple plastic toys to veritable works of art prized by collectors. But the palm undoubtedly goes to Alex Burkan alias Alex Lab, a Russian who has distinguished himself with what he presents as the “world’s first self-contained, retractable lightsaber”. An invention which earned him a place in the Guinness Book of Records, and which should make the most courageous cosplayers salivate.
In an interview given to the institution and spotted by Ouest France, Burkan affirms that this is a project that has been close to his heart for almost ten years. “Since 2013, my main field of research has been in hydrogen generation, so I thought maybe I could build something”, he explains.
A complex assembly
There followed a long crossing of the desert during which he more or less groped his way. “For many years I collected ideas and parts for my lightsaber and power supply from the internet and landfills”, he says. And his efforts ended up paying off because after several years, he finally reached his goal.
This futuristic weapon is based on a process well known to chemists and metallurgists: electrolysis. “The key element of my saber is the electrolyser”, explains the engineer. “It is a device that can generate large amounts of hydrogen and oxygen and compress the gas without a mechanical compressor”, he specifies. And for that, there is no need for exotic material straight out of science fiction; just a little bit of water is enough.
The inventor then had to tackle the most complicated part: giving the sword its final shape. A step much more difficult than it seems. Indeed, the burner must be perfectly calibrated to obtain the desired visual effect. But above all, it was necessary to integrate the entire gas and power distribution system directly into the handle.
A rather limited weapon, but very functional
But the game was worth it and his efforts were rewarded. In the end, Burkan managed to produce a lifelike lightsaber that was functional and cable-free. And as much to say it right away, it is absolutely not a question of a toy but of a real weapon since it has a “blade” of plasma at 2800°C! A furnace sufficient to slice through certain metals.
But that doesn’t mean he could be used in a real fight. “It’s only a prototype, so it has many limitations,” explains Burkan. “It can only work 30 seconds at full power, and the hydrogen torch is not as stable as I would like”, he laments. Defects that seem quite anecdotal… until the mention of the last on the list: “Sometimes the lightsaber just explodes in your hand from backfire“, he blurts casually. But he does not lose hope; Eventually, he intends to build a model as stable as in the famous film series.
Guinness also recalls that it is not the first to try the adventure. In 2020, Canadian James Hobson was entitled to an award for the invention of the first “proto-lightsaber”. This was already retractable and functional at the time, but still required an external power source – in this case, a liquid propane tank mounted on an improvised backpack.
From now on, he will continue to improve his lightsaber for some time before devoting himself entirely to his other project: to produce a real Iron Man armor that would also run on hydrogen!