Laser Fundamentals

Section Overview:

In a few decades since the 1960s, the laser has gone from being a science fiction fantasy, to a laboratory research curiosity, to an expensive but valuable tool in esoteric scientific applications, to its current role as an integral part of everyday tasks as mundane as reading grocery prices or measuring a room for wallpaper. Any substantial list of the major technological achievements of the Twentieth Century would include the laser near the top. The pervasiveness of the laser in all areas of current life can be best appreciated by the range of applications that utilize laser technology. At the spectacular end of this range are military applications, which include using lasers as weapons to possibly defend against missile attack, and at the other end are daily activities such as playing music on compact disks and printing or copying paper documents. Somewhere in between are numerous scientific and industrial applications, including microscopy, astronomy, spectroscopy, surgery, integrated circuit fabrication, surveying, and communications.

Review Articles

Interactive Tutorials

Contributing Authors

Kenneth R. Spring - Scientific Consultant, Lusby, Maryland, 20657.

Matthew Parry-Hill, Christopher A. Burdett, Robert T. Sutton, Thomas J. Fellers and Michael W. Davidson - National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, 1800 East Paul Dirac Dr., The Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida, 32310.