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History of Laser: The journey of twists and turn to innovation

26th Oct 2018
Read Time:6.86 min
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  • history of the laser
  • Fiber laser application
  • laser cutting machine

We may be fascinated by the importance of laser today as we are surrounded by things which are a by-product of laser application.

We may be fascinated by the importance of laser today as we are surrounded by things which are a by-product of laser application. The history of the laser provides equal fascination of how the technology has progressed from year to year over a century. Through this tech blog, we will explore the contribution of events, scientists and introduction of technology over the time span.

1917: Albert Einstein Breaks the ice

Based on Max Planck’s radiation law (theoretically based on Einstein’s principle of probability coefficients), Einstein published his initial findings on laser and maser in the paper called Zur Quantethrorie der Strahlung(English translation: On the Quantum Theory of Radiation). His findings revealed a great deal about absorption, spontaneous emission and stimulated emission of electromagnetic radiation.

Einstein published his initial findings on laser and maser in the paper called Zur Quantethrorie der Strahlung

1928-1950: Two and Half decades of gradual progress

Rudolf W. Ladenburg a German immigrant physicist in 1928 through his experiments proved the phenomena of stimulated emission and negative absorption. In 1939, Valentin A. Fabrikant a scientist from Moscow published a thesis suggesting a series of experiments based on light amplification of ‘short’ waves aiming to prove the existence of negative absorption in the gas discharge. Eight years after in 1947, the first demonstration of stimulated emission in hydrogen spectra was conducted by R.C. Retherford and Willis E. Lamb. At the end of the 1950s, Alfred Kastler put forward a methodology for optical pumping which was experimentally confirmed after two years by Kastler, Brossel, and Winter.

1951: A major through

Building on naval expertise in tube microwave engineering, Joseph Weber published a paper on building microwave amplifier using stimulated emissions. At Electron Tube Research Conference, he gave one of the earliest lectures based on his paper which explained principles of laser and maser.

Joseph Weber published a paper on building microwave amplifier using stimulated emissions

1953-1955: Research across the globe

American physicist Charles Hard Townes and his graduate students James P. Gordon and Herbert J. Zeiger from Columbia University invented the microwave amplifier. The device works on similar laser principles but was able to amplify microwave radiation. On the other side of the globe, two Soviet scientists Nikolay Basov and Aleksandr Prokhorov were individually working on the quantum oscillator. They used different energy levels they solved the biggest problem of continuous output.

Later in 1955, these Soviet scientists indicated optical pumping of a multi-level system as a technique for obtaining the population inversion. This later became the main method for laser pumping.

1958: The rise Optical Maser

At Bell Labs in 1957, Charles Hard Townes and Arthur Schawlow were studying about infrared laser. Later, they shifted their focus on a visible laser which was originally called “Optical Maser”. Based on their research Bell Labs in 1958 filed a patent for optical maser.

1959: The term LASER

Gordon Gould another graduate at Columbia University in a conference that year, termed the world LASER which stands as an abbreviation for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. His intention was to use ‘aser’ as a suffix to X rays, UV rays, etc. But none became popular as laser did.

1960: The first functioning Laser

At Huges Research Laboratories in California in May 1960, Theodore H. Maiman successfully operated the first functioning laser.

Ahead of other research groups of Towns, Arthur Schalow at Bell Labs and TRG (Technical Research Group) company, Maiman’s laser used the solid-state flash lamp. It produced red laser when pumped through the ruby crystal at ~700nm wavelength. The device was three level pump designs and was able to operate only pulsed operation.

1963-1964: Laser and Medical

American top surgeon Leon Goldman pioneered laser machine for medical.

His research directed laser in applications of cancer photodynamic therapy (PDT), dermatology and the use of organic dyes in PDT. 1964: Nd: YAG was a success Bell Laboratories in 1964 under J. E. Geusic leadership succeeded in demonstration first laser operation of Nd: YAG.

1980- 1989: Laser in Dental

Japenese Yamamoto and Sato begin using the laser in Prevention of dental caries by Nd: YAG laser irradiation. This was yet another powerful application of laser. In 1989, Myers and Myers made application of laser general in dentistry

1990: Variety of lasers were introduced

In 1990, Laser was widely popular. Scientists and institutions across the globe started investing in laser technology. Resulting which Ho: YAG, Er: YAG, argon, Er: YSSG and many other types of lasers were introduced.

2003: Fiber laser application changed the industry

Shri Dr. Arvind Patel - SLTL Group (Chairman)

Dr. Arvind Patel, Founder and Managing Director SLTL Group invented the world ’s first laser cutting machine with fiber laser application.

He and his team with years of research and experience found a way to apply fiber laser in the sheet metal industry. Through his efforts, SLTL became pioneers of fiber laser applications for cutting, marking, welding, hardening, cladding, and micromachining. Today, SLTL Group is providing best in class laser systems to the industries worldwide. The history is incredible and the technology is looking, even more, promising when it is integrated with upcoming technologies in automation and inception of industry 4.0. Keep yourself updated to our blog by subscribing below.

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Author Bio


Alex is a marketing manager at SLTL Group with 10+ years of experience in Fiber Laser cutting and welding machines development expert in Robot programming and development of Robotic Laser cutting and welding machines.