Laser is actually an acronym stands for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. Ironically, lasers are made famous by a field where it isn’t widely used: popular entertainment. In the science fiction franchises of Star Trek and Star Wars, lasers are used as the futuristic replacement to physical ammunitions. In the real world, however, people utilize lasers on non-violent applications such as communications, photography, guiding and landing systems, and more.
The discovery of lasers wasn’t actually about lasers, but it was about Stimulated Emission that was theorized by Albert Einstein. Its definition is technical even in its simplest sense, but it’s basically an atomic electron interacting with an electromagnetic wave that results in the creation of a new photon. Louis de Broglie, a French physicist, complemented the development of lasers by introducing his groundbreaking theory that light particles exhibit a wave-like behavior.
Charles Townes alongside Nikolay Basov, Aleksandr Prokhorov and Arthur Schawlow developed the MASER technology or Microwave Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. MASER wasn’t visible, not until 1958 when Townes and Schawlow proposed the possibility of a visible laser. Theodore Maiman made this possible in 1960 when he built the first functioning, solid-state laser.
Later in the same year, Ali Javan built the prototype of lasers that we used today called the helium neon laser.
The components of modern laser tools consist of a lasing material, a pump source and reflectors where practical versions of stimulated emissions occur. Most of the laser applications are just about precision, whether it’s about the straightness of a 90-degree beam or a fence.
In addition, there are three types of lasers commonly used today: gas lasers, dye lasers and free electron lasers. Gas lasers are utilized in making holograms and reading bar codes. Dye lasers are used in complex applications such as spectroscopy, medicine and isotope separation. Free electron lasers are mostly used for surgery and military applications.