What is a Laser?
A laser is an optical device that emits coherent light (electromagnetic radiation). The term 'laser' is an acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation.
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Typically, lasers are thought of as emitting light in a narrow, low-divergence beam, with a narrow wavelength spectrum ('monochromatic' light). Lasers need not have either characteristic, however, it is the coherence of the laser's output that is distinctive. Most other light sources emit incoherent light, which has a phase that varies randomly with time and position.
Uses and Applications of Laser ↓
The first application of lasers visible in the daily lives of the general population was the supermarket barcode scanner, introduced in 1974. The laserdisc player, introduced in 1978, was the first successful consumer product to include a laser, but the compact disc player was the first laser-equipped device to become truly common in consumers' homes, beginning in 1982, followed shortly by laser printers.
The first working laser was demonstrated on May 16, 1960 by Theodore Maiman at Hughes Research Laboratories. Since then, lasers have become a multi-billion dollar industry. By far the largest single application of lasers is in optical storage devices such as compact disc and DVD players, in which a semiconductor laser less than a millimeter wide scans the surface of the disc. The second largest application is fiber-optic communication. Other common applications of lasers are bar code readers, laser printers and laser pointers.
In manufacturing, lasers are used for cutting, bending, and welding metal and other materials, and for 'marking' i.e producing visible patterns such as letters by changing the properties of a material or by inscribing its surface.
In science, lasers are used for many applications. One of the more common is laser spectroscopy, which typically takes advantage of the laser's well-defined wavelength or the possibility of generating very short pulses of light. Lasers are used by the military for range-finding, target designation, and illumination. Lasers have also begun to be used as directed-energy weapons. Lasers are used in medicine for surgery, diagnostics, and therapeutic applications.
Some of the other applications of laser include:-
- Medicine : Bloodless surgery, laser healing, surgical treatment, kidney stone treatment, eye treatment, dentistry, etc.
- Industry : Cutting, welding, material heat treatment, marking parts.
- Defense : Marking targets, guiding munitions, missile defence, electro-optical countermeasures (EOCM), alternative to radar.
- Research : Spectroscopy, laser ablation, Laser annealing, laser scattering, laser interferometry, LIDAR (Light Detection And Ranging).
- Product development : Laser printers, CDs, barcode scanners, thermometers, laser pointers, holograms, bubblegrams.
- Laser lighting displays : Laser light shows.
- Laser skin procedures : such as acne treatment, cellulite reduction, and hair removal.