What is a LASER and how does it work?

What is a LASER, how does it work and What is its uses?

First up - LASER is actually an acronym


LASER is short for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation

In 1917 +Albert Einstein  ( +Albert Einstein fan page    ) introduced the concept of stimulated
emission and laid down the foundation of the LASER.  The concept Einstein developed was that when a photon stimulates an excited molecule or atom a second photon with the same frequency, phase, polarization and direction is emitted.  For a detailed explanation, have a look at this +YouTube video:

 

The first operational LASER was developed by Theodore Maiman in 1959 - he was also awarded the first LASER patent in 1960.  Since then more than 55'000 LASER patents have been awarded in America, so the multitude of uses and applications for LASERS of today was certainly the work of a number of brilliant scientists and engineers.

Laser Level TransmitterFor a full list of laser applications, have a look at this wiki: list of applications.  Since there are so many different applications, here are just a few examples of different LASER applications and designs.

On the right is a picture of an AL40 LASER level transmitter developed and manufactured in South Africa by +Allpronix.  This LASER is used in industrial applications where the level of product (solids or opaque liquids) in a tank needs to be monitored.  This design is the first of its kind to have an on board LCD display and buttons through which it can be programmed and set up for different applications.  For example it can be set for level or distance measurement.  Distance will be used in applications like crane positioning.  For more information on the AL40, go to http://www.allpronix.com/level/

 A very cool experiment is the Lunar Laser Ranging Experiment.  During the Apollo 11, 14, 15 programs retro-reflector arrays were planted on the moon's surface.  Lasers on earth is aimed at these retro-reflector arrays and the time the laser pulses travel is measured to determine the distance of the moon from earth.  For more details read this wiki on +Wikipedia: lunar laser ranging experiment

An application we all know of course is the LASER pointers used for presentations.  These LASERS are low powered beam emitted by a laser diode.  In most jurisdictions these is restricted to 5mW.  More details  on this can be found at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laser_pointer

Another very well known laser application is bar code scanners, which is also a low powered LED laser emitting device used to read bar codes off any item, usually for inventory and pricing control.

 Sources:

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