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Laser, What Its All About And Made Of

909 words - 4 pages

The LaserBefore we can learn about the laser we need to know a little bit aboutlight (since that is what a laser is made of). Light from our sun, or from anelectric bulb, is called white light. It is really a mixture of all the differentcolours of light. The colours range from violet, indigo, and blue, to green,yellow, orange, and red. These make up the visible part of theelectromagnetic spectrum. Light is made up of particles, called PHOTONS,which travel in waves. The difference in the colour depends on thewavelength of the light. Violet light has the shortest wavelength while red hasthe longest. There are other parts of the electromagnetic spectrum whichincludes infra-red, radar, television radio and micro- waves (past red on thespectrum), and on the other end of the spectrum are the other invisibleradiations, ultra- violet, X rays, micro waves and gamma rays. Thewavelength of the light is important to the subject of the laser. A laser is madeup of COHERENT light, a special kind of light in which the wavelengths ofthe light are all the same length, and the crests of these waves are all lined up,or in PHASE. The word Laser is an acronym for Light Amplification byStimulated Emission of Radiation. What does that mean? Basically a laser is adevice which produces and then amplifies light waves and concentrates theminto an intense penetrating beam.The principles of the laser (and it's cousin the maser) were establishedlong before these devices were successfully developed. In 1916 AlbertEinstein proposed stimulated emission, and other fundamental ideas werediscussed by V.A. Fabrikant in 1940. These ideas, followed by decades ofintensive development of microwave technology set the stage for the firstmaser (a laser made up of micro-waves), and this in turn helped to producemore advances in this area of science. These efforts cumulated in July 1960when Theodore H. Maiman announced the generation of a pulse of coherentred light by means of a ruby crystal-- the first laser.Laser light is produced by pumping some form of energy, such as light,from a flash tube (see below) into a LASING material, also known as amedium. Media can be liquids, solids, gases, or a mixture of gases, such asthe common helium-neon laser (see chart). Each medium produces a laserwith a different wavelength and therefore each medium produces differentcoloured light. When the energy, in this case photons (light particles) enterthe medium they smash into the atoms of the medium. The atom then releasesanother photon of a specific wavelength. When a loose photon hits an atomthat hasn't emitted it's extra photon, both photons are released. That is calledstimulated emission of radiation. A single flash from a flash lamp emitsbillions of pairs of photons into the medium. The photons are then released...

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