Lasers: What Everyone Should Know

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Lasers: What Everyone Should Know

Lasers are very important tools in modern science, industry, and everyday life. From their creation over forty years ago their designs have improved and their usefulness increased. They work on physical principles that are a mix of both classical and quantum mechanical, thus making them great examples for demonstrating the properties of light and excited states of atoms and molecules. The process of producing laser light can be complicated, but the explanation of laser action, becomes easily accessible when an explanation of the underlying physical principles, and the apparatus involved in creating it is given. Indeed, there are a number of different types of lasers, solid-state lasers, gas lasers, semiconductor laser and dye pumped lasers. Each of these has different properties that make them ideal for certain situations. Furthermore, each type functions differently, yet produces the same result. That is, light created from stimulated emission, which is totally in phase, all of the same wavelength, and all propagating in the same direction. With this knowledge everyone should gain a new appreciation of light and lasers.

Introduction:

Without a doubt, everyone has heard about lasers, and while the first thing that comes to mind at the mention of the word can be anything from some sort of death ray to a doctor performing eye surgery, their infusion into society is certainly very deep. However, the average layman may not be all that familiar with how exactly a laser functions or the sum total of its applications, which can range from medical instruments, to industrial machinery, to CD players, and as important tools in scientific research.

First off, laser, or more appropriate...

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