Lasers

Daily activities, from scanning items at a grocery store checkout to playing your favorite CD, require the very precise light lasers provide. This page will contain links to resources that will allow you to explore how laser light differs from regular light, browse a timeline of laser science milestones, and learn about the Nobel Prize winning contributions of the many scientists that made the laser possible.

A laser is an optical amplifier - a device that strengthens light waves.  Some lasers have a well-directed, very bright beam with a very specific color; others emphasize different properties, such as extremely short pulses.  The key feature is that the amplification makes light that is very well defined and reproducible, unlike ordinary light sources such as the sun or a lamp.

Dr. Theodore Maiman of Hughes Research Laboratories, with the first working laser.<br/>Photo Credit: AIP Emilio Segre Archives, Copyright HRL Laboratories, LLC
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Dr. Theodore Maiman of Hughes Research Laboratories, with the first working laser.
Photo Credit: AIP Emilio Segre Archives, Copyright HRL Laboratories, LLC

In the fifty years since its discovery, the laser has become an indispensable tool in our daily lives. The laser's many uses stem from its unique properties; for example, the ability to achieve high power while being focused to a pinpoint makes the laser ideal as a precision scalpel in medicine or as a means to slice through thick plates of steel. Other industries reliant on lasers include telecommunications, medical diagnostics, manufacturing, environmental sensing, basic scientific research, space exploration and entertainment. Learn about all the incredible laser innovations over the last 50 years here.

Scientists and engineers continue to find new uses for the laser everyday. Some wide-reaching areas on the horizon for laser technology include improved cancer diagnoses, faster Internet speeds, clean sources of energy, black hole exploration and much more.

Learn more about lasers, their history, and their future at LaserFest.org.
LaserFest.com is a website founded by several scientific societies in 2010 to celebrate 50 years of laser innovation.

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