THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: An amateur scientist from Thiruvananthapuram who recreated the 19th century Tesla coil developed by Nikola Tesla, which allows wireless transfer of electricity, has gone viral with around 4 million science enthusiasts from across the world watching the video of the over-a-century-old invention in Instagram and YouTube. Though the invention by Nikola Tesla, the Serbian-American inventor, had not created an industrial revolution, coil producing high-voltage, low-current, high frequency alternating-current electricity is still the attraction of science buffs.
The new Tesla coil created by V S Sabu of Thiruvallam in Thiruvananthapram, who arguably created the first robot in India (autonomous) in 1987, converts 230 Volts input to 3 lakhs Volts output. An LED bulb which holds near the coil will light up when the electricity jumps into the bulb from the coil which can be seen by the eyes.
Earlier, the Tesla coil circuits were used commercially in spark gap radio transmitters for wireless telegraphy until the 1920s, and in medical equipment such as electrotherapy and violet ray devices. Today, their main usage is for entertainment and educational displays, although small coils are still used as leak detectors for high vacuum systems.
Sabu who has more than 38 years of experience in design, development and manufacturing and specialized in robotics, told TNIE that he began to experiment with the coil out of sheer passion for this equipment, which the modern day science buffs or engineering students are not familiar with. This is because the technology is not widely used in commercial applications. “But the video of the coil I generated which was then posted in social media had gone viral within days, and interestingly the lion’s share of the responders were students from India, apart from some media houses like Caters News Agency, UK’s leading independent photo and news agency,” he said.
“I set up the Tesla coil during the lockdown period in 2020. This is a tribute to Nikola Tesla and I dedicate this project to young innovative minds of India. Tesla coil, invented in 1891, works by spark gap technology. I’ve set up a solid state tesla coil of 2kW with input voltage 230V and an output of 300kV, controlled using a semiconductor called insulated-gate bipolar transistor. This is the tesla coil with the largest ion propulsion thrust I’ve ever seen in my career, though it is not the largest tesla coil by size,” he said.
His other works in high voltage include Jacob ladder, mineral separator, dancing plasma fire etc.“Such technologies invented centuries ago are not so popular among Indians, whereas foreigners come up with different types of tesla coils even before high school. This could be one of the reasons why we lag behind in technology. I intend to create awareness about the opportunities in high voltage areas. A professor from Gujarat contacted me for sharing my apparatus for demonstration to his students. I hope this will spark a change in our academic approach,” he said.