Laser stands for "Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation" and refers to a device that produces a narrow, intense beam of coherent light through the process of stimulated emission. Lasers from the leading manufacturers are listed below. Use the filters to narrow down on products based on your requirement. Download datasheets and request quotes for products that you find interesting. Your inquiry will be directed to the manufacturer and their distributors in your region.
What is a Laser?
A Laser, also known as Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation, is a device that produces a coherent and monochromatic beam of light by using optical amplification. The emitted light typically spans a very limited range of wavelengths within the visible, infrared, or ultraviolet spectrum. Various types of lasers exist, such as solid-state lasers, liquid lasers, gas lasers, and semiconductor lasers.
Characteristics of Laser Beam
Lasers have different characteristics that set them apart from conventional light sources. Firstly, lasers are coherent, meaning that the emitted light waves have a fixed phase relationship, resulting in a tightly focused and organized beam of light. Secondly, they are monochromatic, emitting light of a single, specific wavelength or color, which is advantageous for applications like spectroscopy and optical communication. Also, lasers are highly directional, allowing the light to be tightly focused or collimated, making them ideal for precision tasks like cutting, engraving, and scientific measurements. Lastly, lasers generate high-intensity light beams, capable of concentrating enormous amounts of energy into a small area, enabling them to perform tasks like laser welding, surgery, and material processing with exceptional precision and efficiency. These inherent characteristics make lasers invaluable tools in a wide range of scientific, industrial, medical, and technological applications.
Working of Laser
The key components of a laser include an optical resonator and a gain medium. The optical resonator typically consists of two mirrors placed parallel to each other, with one mirror allowing partial transmission of light. This arrangement forms a cavity where light bounces back and forth between the mirrors. Inside the resonator, there is a gain medium, which can be a solid crystal, a gas, a liquid, or a semiconductor. The gain medium contains atoms or molecules that can be excited to higher energy levels.
The laser operation begins when energy is supplied to the gain medium, typically through an external light source or electrical discharge. This energy excites the atoms or molecules within the gain medium, causing them to move to higher energy levels. When these excited atoms or molecules return to their lower energy states, they release photons of light.
To create a laser beam, it is important to achieve a state called population inversion. In this state, there are more atoms or molecules in the higher energy levels than in the lower ones. This condition is essential because it enables stimulated emission to dominate over spontaneous emission. As the excited particles release photons, these photons stimulate other excited particles to emit photons of the same frequency, phase, and direction. This leads to an exponential increase in the number of photons with identical properties, resulting in coherent light. The coherent light waves travel in phase, maintaining their phase relationship. Some of the photons created in the gain medium escape through the partially transmitting mirror, forming a focused and intense laser beam. Because the photons in the laser beam have nearly identical wavelengths and are in phase with each other, the laser beam is highly directional and capable of maintaining its concentration of energy over long distances.
Stimulated emission is a fundamental process in lasers that plays an important role in generating coherent and monochromatic laser light. In this process, an atom or molecule in an excited energy state is stimulated to get de-excited to a lower energy state when it interacts with an incoming photon that has a matching energy. As the excited particle returns to a lower energy state, it emits an identical photon in terms of frequency, phase, and direction as the incoming photon. This stimulated emission results in the amplification of light waves within the laser cavity, as more and more photons stimulate additional emissions, creating a cascade effect.
Pumping in Lasers
Pumping in lasers is the process of providing energy to the laser medium, typically in the form of light or electricity, to stimulate the emission of coherent and monochromatic light. This energy input excites the atoms or molecules within the laser medium to a higher energy state, creating a population inversion, where more atoms or molecules exist in the higher energy state than the lower one. When these atoms return to their lower energy state, they emit photons in a synchronized manner, resulting in an intense and focused laser output beam.
Three-level and Four-level Laser System
Lasers usually work with three or four energy levels. In a three-level laser, initially, an atom is excited to a high-energy state, but this state has a short lifetime. It then gets de-excited to a slightly lower-energy state called a metastable state. This metastable state is important because it has a long lifetime. This helps in creating a special condition called population inversion. When this happens, the atoms can be stimulated to release laser light and return to their normal state. One example of a three-level laser is the ruby laser, invented by Theodore Maiman.
In a three-level laser, it works best when the ground state doesn't have too many atoms or molecules in it. When atoms give emit light, they tend to collect in this ground state. Here, they can stop the laser from working by absorbing the laser light. So, three-level lasers usually make short bursts of laser light.
A four-level laser is a solution for this. It adds another state between the metastable state and the ground state. This extra state helps to prevent too many atoms or molecules from accumulating in the ground state. As a result, four-level lasers can produce a steady and continuous beam of laser light that can last for a long time, often for days.
Types of Lasers
Some of the different types of lasers are given below:
Applications of Lasers
Lasers have a number of applications. They serve as precision tools capable of cutting through dense materials like diamonds and thick metals. In the field of medicine, lasers are designed to aid in delicate surgical procedures. Lasers play important roles in data recording and retrieval, communication systems, and the transmission of TV and internet signals. Everyday devices such as laser printers, bar code scanners, and DVD players rely on laser technology. Additionally, lasers contribute to the manufacturing of components for computers and various electronics.
They also feature prominently in instruments known as spectrometers, which assist scientists in analyzing the composition of substances. For instance, the Curiosity rover employs a laser spectrometer to identify chemicals in rocks on Mars. NASA missions harness lasers to investigate Earth's atmosphere and create maps of planetary, lunar, and asteroid surfaces.
Lasers have been instrumental in measuring the distance between the moon and Earth. Astronomers achieve this by timing the travel of a laser beam to the moon and back, enabling precise distance calculations.
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